Sunday, February 8, 2009

A Good Story

I'm reading a book called Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott, at the recommendation of a friend. I'm about halfway through, and I'm still trying to decide what I think of it. I've heard Lamott described as the female Donald Miller (no . . actually it was that Donald Miller is the male Anne Lamott), and I really like Blue Like Jazz (although I didn't care for Searching for God . . quite as much), so I went in with high hopes.

One thing I do like about it --and that I liked about Miller's Jazz: their stories are fascinating. I mean, their personal spiritual stories, particularly of how they came to know God and Christ. Neither of them are conventional Christians, and some of what they have to say about their current walks and faith make me squirm a little (I may be writing more about that later), but they are walking, talking testimonies of the fact that there is a God and He is in the life-changing business.

Keith and I have, in the past, bemoaned the fact that we have boring testimonies. I mean, we grew up in the church . . . we were good kids . . . we've always known Jesus at some level . . . you know? There isn't any dramatic moment we can point to and say, "Look how messed up my life was, and how Jesus came and fixed it all! Hallelujah! To God be the glory!" It's kind of a bummer.

Now, I'm not saying I would have changed anything in my life, that I wish I'd been a druggie or something for the sake of spicing up my story. But it seems that a Christian -- ANY Christian -- really should be able to point to specific episodes in their lives that they know are evidence that God was at work.

Pastor Jeff M. talked about that today (gotta distinguish him from the "real" Pastor Jeff in Voorhees!). About caring about the spiritual lives of others, without being an obnoxious, overbearing Bible-thumper. He talked about sharing your story. And I nodded and said "Amen" (well, I said it inside anyway). That's right. That's what people need to hear. Your story. What God has done for you.

Unfortunately, I think there's too many of us (us, meaning the general church-going world of believers) that, sadly, couldn't come up with a specific, genuine, significant story of what God has done for us if our lives depended on it. And I think that's because we live pretty wimpy Christian lives. We don't really expect God to do great things for us, so we don't put ourselves in a position where He has anything great to do. Occasionally, things come up beyond our control: cancer, accidents, job layoffs, etc. But even then, I think we try so much to handle it ourselves, we don't see the hand of God when it is there.

Our God is too small. No, He isn't. We just don't recognize His Bigness and act on it. I mean, if we all really believed , really believed, that God is exactly who He says He is -- ALL-knowing, ALL-powerful, ALL-loving -- what difference would that make in our lives? How much more boldly would we live?

Bold. I like that word. Make me bold, Lord.


Robin Shreeves said...

Traveling Mercies is one of my favorite books (I wasn't the one who recommended it to you, was I?) Lammot's story of when she was in her bed and Jesus was in the corner blew me away. She has a book that she has written about writing, Bird by Bird, that's really good, too.

Unfortunately, her latest book (can't remember the name)has a different tone. She was very angry at the Bush administration, and I wasn't able to find any inspiration in her words. Which is fine, she gets to write what she wants to write, she doesn't have to answer to me, but it just didn't do it for me. I didn't finish reading it.

But I would recommend making it through the end of Traveling Mercies. So worth it.

Emily Oleaga-Talley said...

You make a really good point Gwen. How can Christians expect God to do great works in us, if we stay in our comfort zome or if we fail to listen to Him telling us to trust him. Only when we trust Him totally do we see the great things that He has in store for us. Think about it. I found this on a webpage b/c I remembered that Peter walked on water too.

God calls us to do impossible things by faith. It must have taken a lot of faith by Peter to take that first step out of the boat in the middle of the wind and waves. When he did, Peter walked on water!

Christina said...

I have to add those to my list to read! I'm currently reading The Shack by William P. Young.. I think you'd be interested in the plot as well.

Miss you!