I will tell you a true story that you may have a difficult time even imagining.
It’s a story about me, and because it’s about me,
There is a certain risk involved in the telling.
(But, then, there’s always a certain risk in any kind of telling of story, I suppose.)
For, the telling of a story always includes something; if you read the many stories of Jesus in the bible, those parables he often told to his listeners,
There was always an implied ‘payoff.’
A reason for the telling.
A ‘so what,’ or A a truth or an agenda behind the telling.
Almost an assurance that may not be articulated specifically,
But was nonetheless guaranteed: “If you listen to my story, you will ….”
And then, that sentence could be completed in many ways:
“If you listen to my story, you will learn something.
Or feel something.
Or want to go do something.”
I suppose another way to say it would be,
‘Something’ was always important to Jesus, as a teller of stories.
And if you listen carefully to what Jesus said in his stories,
That something will happen to you, or in you, or for you.
When storytellers tell stories with no ‘so what?’ attached, we call those stories ‘Boring.’
And nobody likes a boring story, unless … well, I will intentionally tell you a “boring” story.
It happened on the occasion of my being asked to fill the pulpit of the church where I served as music pastor. I was much younger, then, and my normal role was as a musician and leader of worship. But now, I was being asked to speak the very message of God for a service. I would be the preacher.
I studied for that message. I added to, and subtracted from things I did and did not want to say. I prayed about the message. I asked God to give me words — just the right words. And on the evening I was to speak, I rose to my feet, approached the sacred desk called a pulpit, opened my bible and the eight or ten pages of notes I had determined to deliver, and began to speak.
But, as I spoke … boredom began to happen, deep inside of me. Perhaps not to my listeners, I do not know. But for a certainty, to me. An overwhelming sense of boredom swept over me, within ten minutes of my delivering my sermon, telling the story of God. What does one do when one is bored to tears by their own words?
I stopped, mid-sentence at one particular point, and said: “Could we pray?”
“Lord,” (I prayed right out loud so not only God but everyone else could hear,)
”I’m bored. I am telling your wonderful story in a way that should bring life and light. The way I’m telling it does not seem to have a promise, or a reason for telling. It seems to me that You are not in this word. You are the Fresh and Living Eternal God. If you do not come and breathe upon this word, and bring your purpose and reason for the telling of this story … I can’t continue.”
There. I had said it. I told God of my boredom, and my firm belief that there can be absolutely nothing boring about telling the message of God and His grace, and His love.
And so, I stopped my telling.
Instead, we sang.
We prayed some.
We encouraged one another with verses from The Book.
We shared personal stories about how God had met us during the week, things we had seen, and learned.
I will not tell you how this evening and its stories ended. But I can promise you, it was not boring. To coin a phrase: “You just had to have been there.”
The Lord Jesus was the greatest storyteller who ever lived. In John, chapter 14, he told his disciples something profound. He said, “… remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me.”I pray that as we all live our lives and tell our stories — stories of the wondrous grace of our God, — those who listen will know that our lives are not our own, and our stories have been written by the Lord’s sovereign hand. Living a life for Jesus is the most exciting story in all the world. There are no boring stories … when Jesus is the focus.