We love to hear the stories of fellow “pilgrims” in the “faith-walk” we call the Christian life! They inspire and encourage us! We find ourselves uplifted, reinvigorated, instructed, and experiencing confident hope as we hear what God has done in and through the crises of their lives. Just yesterday, in church, our guest speaker, Reggie Dabbs, encouraged and challenged us with the “grace stories” of his life. Yesterday was Father’s day and I wrote a tribute to my dad, Ewalt W. Bartel, and recalled the story of how my mother almost died during the childbirth of one of my brothers and how my Dad “prayed through” and experienced only the supernatural peace Jesus can give. God miraculously spared her life!
Stories of God’s faithfulness… Stories of God’s steadfast love… Stories of His power… Stories of His provision… Stories of His protection… Stories of deliverance… Stories of His guidance and leadership… Stories! Stories!! Stories!!! The Bible is filled with them – but hang around some Christ followers awhile and you’ll hear some more stories that reinforce and expand on the ones in the Bible. Stories of God active in the lives and experiences of people TODAY!
Today during “coffee with the Lord” I read a Psalm jam-packed with stories like that! Psalm 107 – I call it the “testimony service” of the Old Testament (It used to be, we’d have entire portions of church services dedicated to the stories of what God had done and was doing in our lives – we called them “Testimony services” – not a bad idea!) Although I don’t know the exact circumstances of all the stories in Psalm 107, while reading it over today, in my imagination it told the story…
• of a homeless person who finally found a home;
• of a rebellious youth whose bad choices almost destroyed their life but turned to the Lord and found deliverance;
• of a drug addict that experienced freedom from bondage
• of a sailor who almost perished in a storm but was miraculously rescued
The Psalmist opens the “testimony service” with these words…
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so…
Then each of the stories is told… each of the situations and stories I’ve referred to above. Oh how I love the repeated refrains… over and over the following words are repeated (four time – four different situations)!
“They cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress! … Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Then the finale…
“Let them extol Him in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders… Whoever is wise, let him attend to these things; let them consider the steadfast love of the LORD!” (From Psalm 107 ESV)
Sometime soon, perhaps even today, an opportunity is going to arise for you to honor God with one of your stories. Seize it! Take hold of the opportunity and use it to build, bless and encourage someone else to trust God in their situation!