Who doesn’t love a good story? Or better yet, a good God story?
The summer series at our church is titled “House of Miracles” and it’s been amazing to be a part of it in a personal way.
Back in April I received an email from Ryan, our lead pastor, asking if I would be interested in sharing my conversion story. The story of how I walked out of the Mormon church into a relationship with Jesus.
I have to tell you, at first I wasn’t so sure. I was, in the moment, a little tired of being the “ExMo”. Sort of bored of hearing my own story. However, when someone asks me to do something that is in my power to do, and I think it might be of help to someone else, I generally say yes. So, I at least wanted to see what the idea was about.
It wasn’t long after I responded that I would be interested that my phone rang and the voice of sweet Sally, our church’s social media director, came on the line.
“We would love for you to share your story of leaving the Mormon church in about 5-7 minutes.”
I almost dropped the phone.
How in the world would I take a story that spanned 20 years and sum it up in 5 minutes? Was she crazy? I know she’s heard my story, at least most of it, and recently to boot.
“I know that your story has a lot of twists and turns, and I’m not trying to tell you what to say, let the Spirit do that, but maybe if you could share the miracle of your friend who walked alongside of you when you were leaving? I love that part of your story.”
Well, at least we were down to an eight year arc.
Sally continued to share the vision of the series. There would be eight stories told by members of our congregation over a series of eight weeks. These stories would range from tales of broken marriages that had been restored, abuse, addiction, and transition. The unifying theme? How God was there for the whole walk. How His love and grace saved each and every one of us in the midst of some of the hardest times in our lives. I was in.
We were invited to a dinner in May where we broke bread together, many of us meeting for the first time. Sally had prepared some ice-breaker questions for our pastors to “get the conversations started” around the table, but they weren’t necessary. The conversations came easily. We shared other stories from life generally. We laughed, a lot, as we communed.
After dinner, we moved to the family room where there were three couches. We all took a seat and then the recording began. Some stories were longer than others, but it was as if time stood still in those moments. Each story was heart felt. Some were tender, some were sad, some included a little humor. Some made my jaw drop, and others made my insides swell with an unbelievable feeling of love or compassion for these people I didn’t know an hour before. In all of the stories the hand of God was so clearly seen. In the trial, and as God walked each of us through them.
It was a good reminder that He doesn’t save us from our trials, he walks beside us, sometimes even carrying us, through them. And through the trials our faith can grow as we learn to depend on Him fully. And even when we forget to call on Him, He is still there, waiting with open arms to guide, love and usher us to a safe place. A place of security and love.
When we finished sharing our stories we went outside where Sally grabbed a few photos of each of us and then we lingered. The Spirit was so strong that evening that no one wanted to leave. The bonds of friendship were formed that night.
And then the waiting began.
The stories wouldn’t air until June and July.
As the series began I found myself eagerly anticipating each story as it came on the screen after worship but before the message. So often it has felt like I was hearing the story for the first time. Each story has been familiar to me, but what I’ve gleaned from each one has been different than it was in the moment. I have had the opportunity to experience the impact of these miracles right alongside everyone else.
And that goes for my story as well.
This last Sunday my story was played up on the big screen. And I was captivated by it. Not in an egotistical way, “hey, look at me up there on the big screen!”, but in a look at that woman who was once broken but was made stronger through the miracle of friendship and through God revealing the truth even in a walk of lies. I saw a survivor. I saw a woman who sought after the God of the bible. Even when she didn’t realize that is what she was doing. And in the moment of hearing my own story all the people God placed in my life along the way came to my mind and my heart was touched by His love for me.
My story is simple.
It doesn’t matter the mistakes we make, or the sin we commit. God’s grace covers it all. And we are worthy of His love.
This week will be part 2 of my story. The Overflow podcast. Episode 84 Seeking and Finding the Truth.
I believe we set a record for our conversation. 1:20’ish minutes. So, if you’re interested, grab a snack and hunker down. I’ll post the podcast here when it plays. For now, if anyone is interested in the video, I believe it runs about 9 minutes long, click HERE or on the picture at the top of this post.
I hope it touches you and brings you hope. We’re never too far for God to reach us.