Posts Tagged ‘squinting at that small screen’

One afternoon last week, I was part of a gathering of around eighteen people who came together to watch a video podcast of a well-known Christian teacher and author speaking at a conference in the US. His material was excellent and he kept our attention most of the time, despite our having to watch him on a small computer screen rather than via the data projector, which refused to cooperate on the day. But the undoubted highlight came when he chose to finish his talk with a story about an event that had impacted him deeply only three weeks earlier. At that point, even though we had sat in the same spot for over an hour, squinting at that small screen, we were all mesmerised. And the silence afterwards was almost palpable.

As we talked together later, that personal story was clearly what everyone remembered above all else. Never mind the other fifty-five or so minutes of wisdom we heard, that no doubt had taken this gentleman hours to prepare. It was those last five minutes that had captured our attention and remained with us. Yet whether he had shared this story first or last, I am sure it would still have been the most memorable part of his input. Such is the power of story.

After that same meeting, a friend came up to me eagerly.

‘I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your book Soul Friend,’ she told me. ‘I just loved it! I really enjoy people sharing their own personal stories like you did—I think this helps other people going through similar situations. And I also loved reading about your relationship with friend Joy. It inspired me in my own journey of being a spiritual companion to others.’

I responded by explaining how vulnerable I felt in attempting a memoir such as Soul Friend. In writing my novels, I could use any number of characters to share my own experiences. I could hide behind their personas and not have to take responsibility for anything they said or did. After all, novels aren’t ‘real’, as some who never read fiction have told me over the years. But with Soul Friend, I had to own my every thought, word and action. Yes, that felt very risky at first. But I’m so glad God prodded me to take that risk.

It was interesting to watch the gentleman we heard via the podcast as he explained his reasons for sharing his recent experience with us. He was obviously a little fearful of sharing something so personal and precious. And he was also wary about making himself out to be someone special or even focussing too much on himself. Obviously, too, this kind of personal sharing was not what his particular denomination was used to. Nevertheless, he went ahead, because it was as if he simply had to share the marvellous thing God had done for him.

So … please tell your story too. Tell what God has done in your life. It will be different from everyone else’s story and may well touch others in a way nothing else can. Besides, it brings God glory—surely a wonderful thing to do.

Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Ps 66:16

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvellous deeds among all peoples Ps 96:3

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