Missionary night is something my church puts on once a month. There's no particular program, and the flexibility is what makes it so interesting.
Tonight, my cousin, Elf Ira, spoke about his experiences in Africa.
(An aside: When I was a kid, I thought the song "Elvira" was actually called "Elf Ira." Since my cousin's name was Ira, I naturally associated it with him. But I never could figure out why an Elf set anyone's heart on fire. Further association: a man in our congregation tonight mentioned that he heard Elf Ira sing this very song at the top of his lungs in a slightly inappropriate setting. Oh the things we do under the age of 5.)
Elf Ira said several things I found particularly poignant. Like the fact that we're all called to missions. But what really struck me was his indication that the missionaries would sit in circles in these villages and tell stories, because these villages are a story-based society.
He mentioned that we don't always understand that mentality in America, because we aren't really a story-based society. For the most part, I think he's right. At some point we started treating the art of the story as fiction that has no capability to change lives whatsoever.
But stories are often true. They are breathing, living things--like the Word that is living and active. They have the capability to grip us and speak to the silent places we like to pretend no one notices. We see the people we want to be and the ones we wish we didn't relate to at all.
Jesus' journey to the cross wasn't just a one day affair. It was a thirty-three year adventure--a story full of twists, turns, hope and redemption. It is compelling because it walks in front of us and shows us the lay of the land. When we lose ourselves in it, we find that the story envelopes us entirely--wrapping itself around and around who we are, and perhaps more importantly, who we will become.
We can't lose the art of the story. Instead, we need to give it room to breath, because it will not be contained on a two dimensional page within covers made out of cardboard.
My story is still being written. If you're reading, yours is, too. (Actually, if you're still breathing, it's being written. Reading my blog certainly has nothing to do with living...or even living well. Though I'd like to think it enhances you in some way. HA!)
Share your story. Let it breathe. And when someone says, "What now?" Shrug your shoulders and give yourself permission to respond, "He's still writing that part."