A pile of rocks. What is this supposed to mean, exactly? Thanks for the field trip to the river. It’s a pile of rocks. I can make my own at home.
How we connect the past to today is essential to passing forward history. If we make it boring and dry, some of it might stick, but most won’t. An enthusiastic teacher might be slightly more successful than the boring teacher, but it is still connecting it that matters. If the dry or enthusiastic sharing of facts doesn’t connect, should we just be quiet? Probably not. Only by sharing is there any hope at all of passing it on.
So, then what? Story. Even the family stories that make a person roll their eyes. Some have probably heard (or even said), “I used to walk 2 (or more) miles to school uphill (uphill is important) both ways in knee-deep (or deeper) snow.” There might be some wind in there, too. Some of you probably smiled or groaned. Sounds familiar? As a child it might indeed have seemed forever to walk, the snow too deep, and the wind too cold. A re-walk of those exact steps as an adult is a completely different perspective. It’s the story that connects.
At some point, it seems the pile of rocks pulled from the middle of a raging river, during flood stage, yet walking on dry ground, lost its magic. Did the Israelites during the time of Judges forget? Did somebody move the stones? How could the symbol of God’s amazing act turn into something boring? Easy. We can take a mirror and reflect our culture. History (except for a few) has become part of the dusty books on the back shelf. We’re not talking knowing all the amazing, angering, distressing, heart-wrenching stories, for who can know them all? We are talking about a common understanding of the way of things. Instead of common culture, we now have facts. And before one tears down the media or education, this is a long-germinating issue. It’s over a century, at this point.
Christianity, with its own and longer history, has the same issue. We have to start sharing our God-encounter stories with each other. Whether the story is large or small, it is our story with God at the center that needs to be shared. When we all develop a culture of sharing our God encounter stories, they stop being strange or odd. It becomes no longer uncomfortable to share. There is a caveat, however. The stories have to be shared in relationship. If you walk up to another person, even someone at church, without a developed relationship, the story will seem awkward, and will likely fall flat.
1) What story from American (or your country of origin) history do you remember? What about that story connects with you?
2) What God-centered story from a fellow Christian do you remember? What about that story connects with you?
3) Have you ever shared a God-centered story with a non-Christian? Why? What was the occasion? Did it connect with them? Why or why not?