I’m going to tell you a story…
And if I left it at that, you’d all probably be mad at me because I totally piqued your excitement and then left you hanging, but I won’t do that so here goes:
One day I was sitting in a coffee shop trying to write about the power of stories. This is a true story by the way…and I heard a slight kerfuffle behind me. One of my dearest friends had walked in, and was standing behind me leaning down to give me a hug, and as she did, she whispers in my ear “Did you see Joe Jonas?” I giggled and assumed she meant the doppelgånger who happened to be sitting at the table behind where she’d placed her stuff. As I walked over to her table, something caught the corner of my eye, it was in fact Joe Jonas sitting at the table behind me enjoying a cup of, well joe, of course.
Within minutes, there were whispers and watchers coming from nearly all the women, and the staff behind the counter confirming with their knowing looks that it was in fact Mr. Jonas seated at the table.
I don’t know about you but I’m a people watcher, so the highlight for me really was watching everyone’s expressions as they realized who was sitting in the cafe.
Anyway, as I sat there trying to write about story, listening to the murmurs of disbelief as the other members of DNCE joined Mr. Jonas, I was racking my brain for a good story, at least a solid intro to storytelling and its impact on our culture and relationships. I mean, I couldn’t think of anything. I kept trying to focus and pray and was asking God, “Hey, you gave me this scripture and this realization, help me convey what you’ve revealed to me.” Right? Normal prayer, like God, you’re showing me something, so help me to get it out into words so I can share it. But nothing, I couldn’t think of anything – I kept writing, and re-writing, deleting, and thinking of all the funny yet mildly cliche quips I could have opened with.
Then of course, it hit me. I had to pee, and by this point, there were several people filling the cafe, and where I was seated kind of made it a bit awkward to get up and walk to the restroom because #JoeJonas. So what’s a girl to do? I sit…and wait, until i can wait no more, and get up to head to the restroom, so I did, and so did someone else. I’ll let you imagine who, and then I will just go ahead and tell you, it was him, that Joe. He stopped, so kindly, right in front of the restroom with his band mates to take a photo with the baristas. How sweet is that? But also, guys, I had to pee. Without shame, I declare, “I need to pee, so, um…excuse me.” And proceed to the restroom door. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I told Joe Jonas to get out of my way so I could pee, and absolutely nothing else – no encouragement (my normal route), no compliments, not even an awkward yet genuine hello. Afterwards, I headed back to my seat, attempted, and failed miserably to keep plugging away at the story. Frustrated, I could not think of anything to say that really captured my voice and felt ‘authentic’. And then it hit me…I was living the story, and it was good, funny even, and slightly embarrassing, but truly, it was good.
See you won’t forget about the power of story (hopefully) in this case because I just utterly humiliated myself in front of a high profile celebrity, and was oblivious to the value of the story as I was living it out, but how often is that exactly what we do with what God is trying to show us? We can get so caught up in our everyday, that we miss the amazing story He’s placing right in front of us. And then to make matters worse, we feel like we have to make some complicated version of the hypothetical to explain what happened. Jesus didn’t do that. He taught with stories, parables, almost every time he was in public, He taught with parable. It was only to his disciples, his innermost community that he fully explained things to. Our day to day living is filling the pages of your very own unique story.
See, God is writing your story, it’s beautiful, funny, embarrassing and there are probably parts you’d like to leave out but you can’t. Because without those parts that feel uncomfortable, you lose the reality and uniqueness of you. And if we aren’t paying attention, we miss the story that’s unfolding right in front of our face. Don’t miss the story. Don’t miss the beauty that is right there, and even more importantly maybe the very story that is unfolding for you is a tool for your future. A tool to tell others, in a very real way, about our great God and what He is doing in your life.
Moral of the story: Even flagrantly telling Joe Jonas you have to pee, can be used to share God’s glory. Don’t miss these golden opportunities. (And yup, I just said golden.)
Mark 4:24-25(NLT): Then he added, “ Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given- and you will receive even more. To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.
Mark 4:33-34(NLT): Jesus used many similar stories and illustrations to reach the people as much as they could understand. In fact, in his public ministry he never taught without using parables, but afterward, when he was alone with his disciples, he explained everything to them.
It’s a pretty hot topic right now, and for the last year I’ve been an active part of this conversation in my community and surprisingly in a national forum. While, I didn’t know where this was going to take me, it appears, that I’m going international.
After leading a community group through Undivided (a five-week spiritual journey, bringing people together for meaningful conversation and experiences that can lead to growth and healing the racial divide- www.crossroads.net/undivided) earlier this year, I knew there was so much more to be done.
See, God has had me on this really intense adventure of truly discovering my identity – and while the focus of that has been spiritual for so long, this last year, He’s really been showing me what me genetic DNA is made of. Undivided brought down walls, built new safe spaces, and re-lit a fire I never really was able to articulate prior.
When I heard that there would be a GO Trip (ie. service trip) to South Africa next Fall specifically to do Undivided with the organizations and community we’ve been working relationally with for years passed, I knew I wanted to go. With only 20 spots available, they opened the trip up lottery style. Thousands have gone through this journey in our city, and to even apply for the trip, completed Undivided previously was a requirement. I knew that by signing up, if I landed a spot, it was God, because math logistics, right?
When the email came in last week, that I’d secured a spot on the trip, I was floored. When I stop putting our great God in such a small box, He is free to unleash blessing and provision on me, His daughter, like no other. That’s scripture, its truth, and I am so wrestling with learning to believe that with every ounce of me.
Nonetheless, I am going to South Africa. I have no clue what to anticipate other than God is there, He is working, He is preparing us, He is preparing those already on the ground there, and that this conversation, on this level, it is big.
For those interested in the nitty gritty, I have to have my spot secure with the first deposit by Friday, December 9. If you feel prompted to give, it would be so appreciated. Anything above and beyond the initial $300 will go towards the total trip cost, all which is tax deductible.
And more importantly, pray. Pray for His will to be done, for our hearts to be soft, our ears to hear. For the Holy Spirit to continue to show the way, and for all involved to continue to be willing to step out in faith and obedience.