Today I’m talking about the importance of hearing other people’s stories. Over the past few years, I’ve heard a lot of different people’s stories, and it’s been amazingly beneficial to me. It’s allowed me to see that God is not limited to my experience of him. He does so many different things, interacts with everyone differently, according to their needs, their history, their culture, their family…it’s been amazing. I’ve learned a lot about God through people’s stories, and it continues to be so valuable to me.
Learning from different people’s stories has helped me to become a better person. My experience of church was pretty limited; I attended one specific church, growing up. It was pretty small, and I didn’t have a lot of chance to experience other church practices. My church would tell me how God behaved, what God said and how to believe about it, and I would listen and follow what my church said. But eventually I didn’t feel completely satisfied with their message. I felt like they hadn’t told me the “whole story”.
Through stories, I learned that God is so much bigger than all that. The Bible refers to God as “the great mystery” who is impossible to understand. He is so far beyond our human mind’s ability to comprehend. So when I only attended one specific church, only received teaching from one place, my understanding of and image of God was limited; it fit only in that specific box.
When I began to get out, to experience more and see more different thoughts and viewpoints, I began to realize that people’s way of worshiping God varies. Some people like loud music with a lot of rhythm, others prefer more conservative liturgical type of worship. Some people like to dance, others believe it’s wrong….there’s such a variety in how people worship God, and how they view and understand God.
People in America have a different image of God than people in Africa do. They share some similarities, but they’re also different. People in China have one image, people who were raised in Christian homes have another, and people who had no experience of church growing up have their own differing perspective.
And I realized that it isn’t that one of the images of God is right and all the others are wrong, but they are all pieces of a complete picture of God, and when I add them together, I reach an understanding of God that is much more complete, more well-rounded, and I come closer to understanding who God is, how he works, how he interacts with the world. It’s been a fascinating journey.
Now, I’m still enthusiastically seeking to learn more stories of other people interacting with God, why people come into relationship with God, why people leave relationship with God, what happens when people feel rejected by the church or rejected by God. People’s struggles, people’s successes—I’m curious to learn the what, the why, the how of everyone’s journeys. I want to have an enlarged understanding of God, and Spirit, and how they work. It’s been a very important part of my spiritual growth and journey.
So, I would love to see your stories. If you feel like you would like to share your experience with God, your experience with the church, your experience with the world, life, love…whatever you want to share, I’d love to see it. You can Skype me, you can comment on this video, you can send me a video message, or whatever is good for you. I would LOVE to hear from you, too.
In closing, I would like to invite you to open your mind, open your heart to the vast richness of stories that are out there, and join me by growing your understanding of God.