Dr. RB McFee
©2022 RB McFee with permission J
“As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person”
Proverbs 27:19 NLT
There’s something magical about reflections, especially in the water. Sometimes, as paradoxical as it might sound, the essential beauty, the strength of an object can be better conveyed in its reflection. Put differently, as a subject for photographers, we often study the reflection, as much as the object itself to determine the true heart of the image.
The other day I was bouncing back and forth between a few books, reading a chapter here and a chapter there. It was raining, and I had done my chores and adult responsibilities enough to have earned those ‘me times,’ to enrich the mind. Somewhere in one of the books came an interesting turn of phrase, an inquiry really from the author – ‘what’s your story?’
Put differently, as the Proverb above reminds us, what story do we reflect when someone meets us?
First impressions are lasting. They may not always be correct, but what we convey at the first encounter is what most folks will remember of us. That said, do we reflect to others who we really are as Jesus’ followers? Is our reflection to others the first impression we want to give as God’s ambassadors on earth, in our communities? Do we live our story and tell it through who we are in Christ as seen by others?
It has been said that you or I might be the only Bible someone reads. Is that the book we reflect or would a novel, novella or limerick better reflect us? And if so, which book contained in the Bible are we? Or do we reflect quite a different story?
When a friend would remind me of that concept (usually when I was driving) I would lovingly (well sort of) reply, “yes, but today I am the book of Revelation. Later on I’ll be Matthew or John.”
Levity aside, what is my story?
If Jesus is the Author of who I am through Him, what is He writing, and how am I living it?
‘What’s your story?
It is not a unique, nor is it a novel question, and yet it is an important one.
Have you ever thought about that question? It is a living one, not a mere literary inquiry from character to character or author to reader.
Not too long ago my climbing friends and I invited into our group someone who had been climbing alone. In the course of our working out, he turned to others, and then to me, and asked “so what’s your story?”
What is your story dear reader? Have you ever asked yourself that question? Who are you, and who are you in Christ? Why do you matter to Him, and to the world? And make no mistake about it, you do matter. If you have a pulse you matter and Jesus has a purpose, a plan, and a path for you. I would suspect He has a person for you – someone you are uniquely positioned to help or connect to God.
What is your story can certainly be said when we read the Bible, because the characters contained therein are you and me; their story can be, and at times likely is our story, too.
Consider for a moment how often have you or I read a passage of Scripture, perhaps for the third, or fourth, or umpteenth time. It might even be one we could practically recite by memory. And yet we are somehow drawn back to it.
Or perhaps the Scripture is part of the weekly lectionary, or Bible study and we are ‘assigned’ to read it.
Then BAM all of a sudden the flashbulb pops, and an epiphany happens, and we are blessed with a discernment, a lesson; for that moment in time you or I were meant to read that passage, nudged to it as only the Holy Spirit can, and then the wisdom contained therein is whispered to us.
Going one step farther, perhaps in reading the Scripture this time, it holds personal significance, somehow as if you or I were part of the narrative, as if the Almighty had it written with you or me in His mind, and it is your story, my story, too.
Truman Capote once quipped something to the effect there is at least one book in everyone. We all have a story.
Some might argue we have one really good story to tell – the highpoint or best of or achievement era of our life, and then the rest of our lives are mere chapters that build upon the overall narrative.
I would argue, and in fact the Lord Jesus, and His most trusted Apostles did offer that we have actually two major stories – our pre Jesus one, and our with Jesus story.
The question remains, how much transforming have we allowed Jesus to do with our life? Have we allowed Him to fully be realized so that our pre Savior story is made truly anew in our with Jesus life? Or are our two stories pretty similar?
‘What’s your story?’
Do you ever take the time to reflect upon just how far you have come, just how far Jesus has carried you from where you were to where you are in Him?
Personally my life has changed dramatically, especially my inner self since Jesus saved me. I know the transformation; work in progress though I am.
And, flawed human that I am, nevertheless I do my best to share my transformation. It isn’t hard. Just smile when you want to frown. Exert restraint when you want to let emotions rip. Be kind when no one would notice if you weren’t. Be calm when the storm rages and people want to know why you are in peace.
‘What is your story’ is something we are asked to share every moment we encounter the world, and ourselves; and it is in many ways the essence of who we are as Jesus’ family of followers.
The question is, when we experience a major inner change because of our encounter with Christ, is that beautiful transformation apparent to those we meet?
If we declare ourselves as Christ’s followers, either directly, or in expectant observation, the world will wonder ‘what’s your story?,’ and I think not just to challenge us to act like our Savior, to live authentically (all important and what we should strive for), but to share the Good News with them.
Too often we think the world will resist us like some force-field fending off any mention of Jesus, like water to a cat. But in reality, most people deep down want what we have – a sense of peace and purpose. Perhaps they don’t recognize that is what Jesus is all about, and accomplishes it through love, forgiveness, grace, humility, kindness.
Even if the world is like a strong wind pushing against us and our story, why fear living your story and being ready to share it? God will provide an opening. The question is, will we take it? Can we use the opportunity to share our story, which is really our Savior’s story?
If Jesus really is a Big Deal in our lives, why are we concerned about sharing Him with others? There is a big difference between talking religion, and sharing the peace that is beyond all mortal understanding.
At a time when polls confirm most people don’t trust pretty much anything or anyone, and are increasingly polarized, the One Who can unify us should not be a secret, or Someone we hesitate speaking about, as if we are ashamed of Him. After all, Jesus is trustworthy, and loves all without precondition.
This is not to say we go running around chanting “praise the Lord” or “’let’s talk Jesus time” at every encounter. But there are moments in our conversations that are perfect segues to sharing what Jesus is doing in our lives, and by inference, how that same blessing can be part of the other person’s life, too.
The other day my friends and I were talking about a sick friend. It was a good opportunity to share the peace and strength I have found in my walk with the Lord during dark times, and as a physician, having seen the Power of the Lord manifest – sometimes in a healing, or curing, or a peaceful journey in the dying process. It was a simple witness. It was the right place and the right time to share a bit of my story.
Although cliché, it is nonetheless true – we plant the seed, God grows the tree.
“This is my story, This is my song
Praising my Savior, All the day long”
From Blessed Assurance by Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp 1873
My story can’t and shouldn’t be shared as preachy, a Cliff Notes © all you ever wanted to know about Jesus in 2 hours or less kind of thing, but instead in a personal and conversation specific manner how Jesus became the Good News, my Good News.
Like the hymn Blessed Assurance I praise my Savior all day long by the countenance I leave the house with, and my willingness to reveal what good Jesus can do for others and what I can, what I will do for them because of my Lord and Savior.
“Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary use words.”
Attributed to St. Francis of Assisi
And sometimes we tell our ‘Jesus and me’ story in pantomime – an arm around someone’s shoulder because they need the encouragement, a tin of cookies brought to a shut in, a cup of coffee to a homeless person at the local street corner, a smile to a stranger, a hug just because, or well you get the idea.
If Jesus has warmed your heart, is part of your life, and has inspired you towards a higher level of living, isn’t that worth sharing?
Even just for yourself – what was your pre Jesus story, and what is your ‘Jesus and me’ story? It is an exercise, and a spiritual inventory worth taking; especially in times when the storms are raging, or life has taken a turn not expected or welcome.
“5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4: 5-7
When you think in terms of how far the Lord has taken you, and reflect upon the simple yet poignant question could the pre Jesus person have handled it as well as the with Jesus person?....that is a story worth sharing to so many of our friends and coworkers, and people in our midst who struggle with life’s challenges, and don’t yet have the peace that is beyond understanding through Jesus.
When people see your peace, your heart reflected in your life, when they feel a sense of joy, purpose, goodness, and want to know why, that is your story, your ‘Jesus and me’ story.
That is a story worth telling.
What is your story?