By Roger Kruse
Everyone likes a good story. Stories entertain and intrigue us, capture our imaginations and take us on journeys. Stories are often a mix of good and bad, happy and sad. They are sometimes tense and gripping, but at other times, quite ordinary. A good story can elicit emotions from deep within us. Sometimes it calls forth feelings of justice that demand retaliation and revenge. Stories often stir up anxiety and anticipation as we await the surprising outcome. Most people get a steady diet of stories watching the television. Other folks prefer quietly curling up with a good book. However, the most common place we hear stories is in daily conversation with one another. That’s right, we are all story tellers. We are often compelled to share the events of life with those around us. Both good news and bad news seem to captivate us. Sometimes we just can’t wait to pass on the news. Did you hear I was recently a Grandpa again? That’s right, another Kruse boy made his appearance! … How about those Browns! Did you see they made the cover of Sports Illustrated? … What about the Indians? Are they going to fade on the September home stretch or will they rally to a wild card playoff spot?
Of course, good stories are more than just bits of current news. They involve a plot with characters that spice things up and create interest. Recently I have been reading a book titled “The State of Jones.” It is a fascinating true story about a Mississippi farmer, Newton Knight, who deserted the Confederate Army and returned home to Jones County to protect his family and community, oppose slavery, and support the Union by undermining the rebel cause. It is a story of courage and conviction, danger and heartache. It involves narrow escapes, tragic losses and a fascinating love affair. Newton’s Knight’s story highlights the power of an individual bound together with like-minded downtrodden souls, fighting against the ugly scourge of hate and racism.
Perhaps the greatest single source of memorable stories is found in the Bible. Who has not heard and remembered the thrilling account of the young shepherd boy, David, who singlehandedly defeated the Philistine giant with a small stone flung from his sling? What about the courage of Daniel who maintained his devotion to God despite the ominous threat to his life? Thrown into a den of hungry lions overnight, he testified to King Darius the next morning, “My God sent his angel and He shut the mouth of the lions. They have not hurt me.”
Of course, the greatest storyteller of all time was Jesus. He used stories to communicate truth and teach his listeners real life application. He spoke of a younger son who squandered his inheritance in wild living in a distant country. Eventually, the lost son hit bottom, came to his senses in brokenness and hunger while feeding pigs to survive. Acknowledging the error of his ways, he returned to his father, who welcomed his wayward son home and graciously restored him back into the family. Explaining the need for celebration to the angry and resentful older brother, the father said, “This brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.”
Every day, each of us is writing a story with our lives. The relationships, joys and sorrows, trials and triumphs describe not only the events and circumstances of your unique journey; they also paint a picture of your character, your weakness and strength, your perseverance and faith. It is a story worth telling, especially if you are trusting God to give you His love, courage and help. Ordinary people just like you are discovering that “with God, all things are possible.” Jesus is still inspiring stories of His grace displayed in the lives of his followers today.
Roger Kruse’s story is still being written. He wants it to honor and give praise to God. The key to any life-story is discovering and maintaining faith in Jesus. Even failures and disappointments can reveal God’s goodness for those who trust in the Lord.