Yesterday in church, we sang some older songs, and this was one of them:
I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know 'tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do. I love to tell the story, 'twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
One thing I love about older songs is that, as I sing them, I imagine all the people in the past who have sung and clung to the song. I picture all of us thinking about the words that we are singing, really meaning them, and allowing them to sink into our lives. I wondered what, in particular, this song meant to people in the past. What did “telling the story” look like to them? How did they share the gospel?
As we sang, the words of the hymn filled my soul, and I thought, “Yes! This is what I want to do! I want not just my words, but my whole life to tell the story of Jesus. I want my actions to put flesh on ‘unseen things above.’ I want my words and deeds to reflect ‘Jesus and his glory, Jesus and his love!'” As I pondered this concept, several people in my life rushed to mind, people who needed to see the unseen, to see God’s glory and love at work in their lives. I thought of tangible ways to tell this story to them, and I hope that I will follow through on those ways.
Even more than with specific actions, though, I want the very fabric of my life to tell that story. Recently, I have realized more than ever how simply having a stable, godly marriage tells a story. Loving my children tells a story. Keeping a peaceful, welcoming home tells a story. My life tells a story when we are giving kids rides to and from church, through the mundane conversations we have. It tells a story when I interact with my kids at church and at Y.E.S. It tells a story even when I’m not directly speaking to the kids who are watching me. Knowing that I’m always telling a story makes me realize how important it is for my life to tell the right story. I want to tell the story of Jesus’ glory and His love, not the story of petty human selfishness. I screw up this story regularly, of course, but I pray that the overall narrative remains true to the gospel.
Anna’s little life told that story to us on Saturday. From allowance and other sources, the kids had saved up about twenty dollars each, and we were going to take them to the mall to spend some of it. Before we went, we asked them if they wanted to set any aside to give to the church. Luke considered, and set aside $3, a perfectly reasonable amount. Anna thought about it, and set aside $15. The way she put it was that, “My heart told me I should give it to the church. My heart told me that I had enough things.”
How’s that for telling the story of Jesus’ love? Greg and I were floored and asked her several times if she was sure she wanted to give so much. Even Luke, my sensible child with his furrowed brow, said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Anna, are you sure?” Anna was quite sure. When he found that he could not appeal to her sense of reason, he sighed and said, “Well, if you find anything that you want but can’t afford, I will buy it for you if I have enough money.” And with his generosity toward his sister, he told a story, too.
Anna’s story was a little loud this morning, when she matter-of-factly dumped $15 in change into the collection plate without a second thought, and then went back to playing with her Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Usually, though, the Christian stories being told all around us are quiet, behind-the-scenes affairs. I am blown away by the stories of Jesus’ love that I see all around me on a regular basis, and I can only hope that the story I tell will point to Jesus as well as those others do.
How do you tell the story?