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Not everyone knows this about me and Ike, but we met in a bar.
At the time, I was working as a college minister and Ike was a seminarian. We were both there for a charity date auction, and Ike was being auctioned off. And no I did not bid on him. 🙂
After meeting that night, Ike spent the next few months pursuing me with amazing integrity, patience, and godliness. At first I was guarded because, well, the first time I met him he was on an auction block with a bar full of women howling at him. Not exactly how I pictured meeting my future husband.
However, my heart began to change as the depth of his character slowly unveiled itself. As he pursued me with intentionality and a complete reliance on God, I fell more and more in love.
That was five years ago. There is much, much more to our love story than that, and if I ever meet you in person I would be happy to tell you the whole tale, because I never get tired of telling it. Whenever someone asks how we met, I cherish every detail as I recount the story again. Five years later I still delight in telling our story. I haven’t grown tired of it yet.
One of the reasons I love my love story is that it conjures up many of the feelings I had at that time. Dating is a unique season in a relationship, marked by heightened emotions and a greater sense of urgency. Being away from one another is torture. Over time that fever pitch subsides, giving way to a deep and beautiful stability, but I sometimes miss the excitement of those early days.
That’s why I love retelling our story. When I do, it’s like I’m transported back in time. I relive all the flutters and the thrills. My heart remembers that special kind of romance and chemistry that only comes from novelty. It’s like I’m right back there.
However there’s a second reason I love retelling our story: it’s the story of our origin. In a lot of ways, our story is who we are. Although we have both changed a lot since then, and our relationship has changed as well, our story is still a part of us. Our story reminds us of the way “we” began, and it will forever shape our identity as a couple.
That said, my love story isn’t special or uniquely romantic. My love story is powerful because stories are powerful. For better or for worse, stories can summon memories so vividly that we re-experience the emotions as if for the first time. Perhaps an embarrassing memory still causes you to blush, a regret fills you with paralyzing shame, or a happy childhood memory recalls the blissful magic of young innocence. Stories are like emotional time machines.
Stories also recount our journeys. They remind us of who we are and where we came from. Sometimes those stories are painful, but sometimes the stories are good and truthful. This latter kind of story can be a source of strength that we turn to in uncertain times.
Nowhere is the power of story more evident than in Scripture. The Bible itself is the story of God’s loving intervention in the world. And in the same way that God has revealed Himself through story, we are to follow in His storytelling example. Just look at verses like Psalm 107:2–
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.
Or Deuteronomy 6:20-21–
“When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the Lord our God has commanded you?’then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.'”
As Deuteronomy 6 demonstrates, we are heirs to a long tradition of storytelling. The Israelites were encouraged to tell and retell the story of God’s deliverance, and for many of the same reasons I enjoy retelling my own love story: not only does the telling produce great joy, but it describes one’s history and relationship with God.
I have experienced the power of retelling God stories in my own life. Whenever God has done something awesome through my circumstances, I love to tell the story over and over again. It instills me with the same joy and exhilaration I feel when telling my love story with Ike. It reminds me that God is very much alive and powerful and good. Retelling the stories of God’s miraculous faithfulness reminds me why I believe, and why I love Him.
So today, I encourage you to remember your love stories with God. When did He move in your life in a mighty way? When was He faithful, even in the face of your doubt? What are those God stories that make your heart flutter with happiness when you recall them? And are you telling and retelling those stories today?
Witnessing to the gospel of Christ can often feel stilted and inauthentic, but storytelling is the antidote. Rather than contrive apologetics, simply retell your story. Remember how God was good to you, and tell people about it when the occasion calls. Remember that stories are powerful, and no one can tell your story better than you.