God provided a powerful strategy to engage others with His truth—personal stories of faith!
As believers, our stories of hope include our personal testimonies of salvation, but they’re much more. They actually encompass our life’s journey as we’ve faced challenges. Many Christians might feel their experiences are ordinary or commonplace, but they’re not. Life experiences not only play a role in shaping who we are but also provide valuable resources in communicating God’s truth to others. As we define our own stories, we’ll learn how to encourage those we lead to do the same. Our first steps must be to identify the stories God wants to use to share this hope we have within.
As you reflect daily, you’ll likely recall events that revealed God’s presence and love or challenged you to walk in faith. Ask God how to use those experiences to reflect His glory. Ask God to reveal Himself in events that left you reeling.
Some stories may offer more of a challenge to recall. Using what I call story prompts might help. Look for these prompts—anything God can use as a form of association. Smells or favorite childhood foods often bring back memories. Senses can connect us to previous experiences, either good or bad. When memories pop up unsolicited, jot them down. Family pictures and reunions present opportunities to see and hear stories of your heritage.
Another strategy uses a time line. Draw a line with marks every half inch marked as five-year intervals. Write above the line positive things and below the line negative experiences. Each event contains multiple ‘mini’ stories that describe facets of the experience but can also stand alone. (A car accident might be one event with multiple components—its details, how you were affected, others involved, financial consequences, and so forth.)
Thinking through broad categories might bring to mind times of God’s provision, times He seemed absent, times of betrayal by others, times of joy in the Lord, or times of God’s faithfulness. Once you begin, stories will pop up from the least expected places.
Perhaps the best source of story prompts is God’s Word. Recently young woman accidentally referred to the Old Testament as the Old “testimonies”! She was correct. Both Old and New Testament stories connect with ours. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring these associations to mind, and then jot them down in your story journal. Stay alert during worship and the pastor’s sermon for memories or associations the Holy Spirit might bring to your awareness. I particularly find parallels in my life to the women’s stories. Hannah weeping in prayer to God over her desire for a child, moms with sick children, and personal health issues are just a few. God was at work in these stories then just as He is at work in ours now. Once we begin remembering our life’s story, God can use multiple touch points to connect us with others and to allow us to share the hope within us.
This article is adapted from Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, compiled by Chris Adams.