What's your story?
My father-in-law loves to tell stories.
When you sit with him, be prepared, you are going to get the entire story, from the beginning.
In today’s world, which seems to be conditioning me to have the attention span of a gnat, hanging with him requires two things. First, it requires I settle down and not be in a rush. Second, it requires I engage the story, actively listening, and expecting to learn something from him, even if I have heard it before. You might say, to be genuinely interested.
There are days I do it well, and days I don’t. When I do it well, I realize it is because I am being mindful of respecting him. He has lived over 9 decades, fought in WW2 both in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, raised two amazing daughters, and more.
Bottomline, if I pay attention, I often learn a little bit more.
I start with my father-in-law because todays reading is a bit long as it starts at the beginning and weaves its way through, what we often call, salvation history.
I am wondering if you had to concentrate to not skip over parts of it that you know?
Stephen does not start with Jesus. The Jewish authorities considered him an upstart, a person who did not respect the Law and his ancestry. Stephen shows that not only Jesus, but all his followers, respect and know the story.
This story is our story. We are connected to Abraham, even Adam.
As I read and re-read the chapter I began to notice two threads.
First, I began to notice how many times Stephen not only refers to God, but notes how God is deeply active in it all. Verse 2 God appeared, verse 3 God said, verse 4 God removed Abraham, verse 6 God spoke…the list goes on all the way up to building the Temple. The Temple that the authorities have turned into an idol. They worship it.
The second thread is that Stephen points out the propensity of God’s people to wander away. How Joseph was sold into slavery. How their ancestors refused to obey Moses. How their fathers killed the prophets.
And then Stephen abruptly stops the history lesson and drops two bombshells. First, God does not dwell in house made by hands. Yes, the Temple is cool, but it is not God. Second, they, like their fathers, killed the prophets. Meaning they killed John the Baptist… but not only that, they killed the Righteous One.
It is not a terribly long speech, but it brings their hatred to a boil and they kill Stephen as he gazes heavenward, seeing the glory of God, and Jesus.
How would you continue the story? Specifically, where would you place yourself?
For me, I place myself in a number of places. One place that is important, is to realize that Jesus died on the cross for my sins.
In 2 Peter 2:24 we read, He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.
You might ask why I go to that verse. My answer is because it moves me from being a spectator who is reading a story about a bad thing that happened to a nice man who claimed to God—it moves me from that point of view to—being a person in the story, it becomes my story.
Jesus died for my sin, that I might have life, and become a child of God, a son of The King.
I started talking about my father-in-law and how he likes to tell stories. The one he always tells, especially to people he is meeting for the first time, is how Jesus saved him—it’s his story.
If you want to read my story, it’s right here.
If so, how do you tell it? If you want some help, click here for a copy of a template that you can use to not only tell your story, put also invite others to consider how Jesus loves them.