This past week, Julie and I shared our Maria story with our church family. It was an incredible experience preparing for and then delivering our story 4 times during the worship services. (Video no longer available.) Julie and I re-lived it as we prepared and attempted to condense it. We opened the pages of our journals and read to one another what we were feeling at the time as we walked through the exciting and terrifying days of getting Maria, almost losing her, and then getting to keep her. There were moments of utter frustration in trying to fit our story into a 5 minute package – there are so many significant details that we had to leave out. As Julie and I practiced through it, trying to narrow it down, it felt like we were sucking the heart and emotion out of it. It made me realize how hard of a task I give to people when I ask them to share a significant story in so little time. Yet, we need more stories of hope and faith because this presents God at work and is the perfect accompaniment to the teaching of God’s Word, and a great element of worship as we put the spotlight on God. We never know the fruit that comes from faithfully sharing our life journeys with one another.
Sometimes I get really frustrated at the challenges of being a large church family. Programs feel so far from the real stuff of being a church and they eat so much of our time. I felt myself longing to be small yesterday as I sat through a staff meeting with way too much time devoted to the trivial stuff of running a large church. But then I realized that we can’t be small if we want to keep on mission, growing the kingdom of God – seeing more children adopted into the family so to speak. Yet this sharing from the heart connects us to one another and reminds us that we are a family, a big family going it together through the exciting and terrifying life of being Christ-followers.
Note: Our faith story was shared in the context of a new sermon series called, “Hope Changes Everything.” The first sermon is “When Life Disappoints Me,” by our Senior Pastor, Gary Inrig.