I love stories. If you know anything about me – English teacher, published author – this will not come as any surprise to you. I’ve been an avid reader ever since Aunt Dorothy propped me up between two pillows at the tender age of 18 months and began to teach me to read. I was raised by a mother who consumed the written word and lovingly shared it with me and my sister. She read poetry, fairy tales, and Bible stories to us from as far back as I can remember, and when I grew older we shared books with one another. We had favorite authors in common and could talk books for hours. That early nurturing is one of my greatest blessings. It’s one of the reasons I love Christmas as I do – the stories. I memorized the story of Jesus’s birth from Luke 2 when I was still a young girl, and I read other Christmas stories over and over – “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Clause,” “I Heard the Bells,” – and they, too, became a part of my Christmas tradition. I’ve tried to pass on that love of story to Reagan.
I hold another story very dear to my heart – my faith story. I remember how I was encouraged in my faith from a very young age, by parents and family members who took me to Sunday School and opened my eyes to the glory of attending church. Youth ministers and music ministers, beloved Sunday School teachers, Bible study leaders, and the elders of my church have added to that story for me, enriched it and my life by the lessons they taught and the examples they lived. I add to that faith story every day, I hope, when I read from my devotional book, when I study God’s Word, when I learn something new about Him through Scott’s sermons, or when I hear a new song that speaks to my heart. My life is what it is because of my faith story.
We all have a story. I love to hear other people tell of their journey of faith, of how they came to understand God’s love for the first time and how their lives have been changed because of God’s grace working in their circumstances. By listening to others’ stories I learned for the first time that miracles can happen every day, in even the simplest, most humble of lives, if His children are willing to trust. I learned the power of a simply-spoken, earnest prayer from hearing those stories. I’m richer in my faith story because someone took the time to share his story with me.
That’s what I think is the true miracle of Christmas. It seems to be the one time of year when we are able to shake off our fear and self-consciousness and willingly share our faith with others. Christmas allows us to speak freely about the love of Jesus. Our calling as Christians demands that we be open to God’s leading in our lives so that we can share His love with others, perhaps at a time when they most need to hear that they are loved, that God has a plan for their lives, that they are not alone. In order to be able to share, however, we all need to know what our faith story is. Maybe if we took a little time to develop the details of our stories, to write down the events of our lives so that we’ll be prepared to share when the opportunity comes, we might not be so afraid to speak up. Make no mistake, there will be a time when all of us are called to give an accounting of why we believe. Isn’t it exciting to think that by being prepared to share we can be the instrument God uses to work a miracle in someone else’s life?
This holiday season as we observe the traditions that make Christmas special for us, let’s also add preparation as a part of those traditions. Let’s be ready. God is at work in the world, and I want my story to be a part of His story. Sola Deo Gloria!