Immediately after my calling—without consulting anyone around me and without going up to Jerusalem to confer with those who were apostles long before I was—I got away to Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus, but it was three years before I went up to Jerusalem to compare stories with Peter. (Galatians 1:16-18)
I love that the first thing Paul and Peter did when they got together, for the very first time, was tell stories. Can you imagine being a fly on the wall? There is something about the telling of our stories (or of God’s story in us) that is very rich and life giving; it’s almost like the stories must be told in order to have their fully desired effect in our hearts and lives and souls. And the funny thing is that I’m not sure who they have the bigger impact on, the hearer or the teller. Obviously there is something wonderful about hearing stories of how God grabbed someone’s heart or made someone whole; but there is also this strange and wonderful dynamic that takes place in the heart of the teller even as the story is being told. It is as if somehow it is continuing to move and to grow in his heart and soul even as he shares what he has seen or heard. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s those times when you are in the middle of telling some incredible story of God’s Spirit and God’s work, and you actually begin to hear what you are saying…and be completely captured by it. It is almost as if you didn’t completely realize what all was going on until you began to tell it, and as you opened your mouth it is almost as if the story began telling itself and was just using your mouth as its vehicle. After all, it is not your story, or even mine (or theirs for that matter), but the story of God. It is His, and something about its quality tells us that. Somehow if the story was only about me, or about you, it wouldn’t carry the same weight; it wouldn’t have the same impact. It would fall lifeless to the ground and die—so many of my stories have suffered that fate through the years simply because I didn’t yet understand that the story wasn’t about me, but about Him. Stories about Him have life; they live on and produce their fruit long after their telling. It is simply beautiful.
I have had the pleasure of experiencing this a lot this fall, as one story after another has simply unfolded before my very eyes; as if the story itself was somehow longing to be seen and heard…and told. I’m just grateful for the grace (and it is completely grace) to pay attention and to recognize even a little of what God was up to at the moment. Thanks be to God!