It just dawned on me.
Speaking at the Seniors Fellowship at church, I decided, as it was my first time, that I’d tell them some stories from life and ministry thus far by way of intro. You always get to know people truly through the stories they tell about themselves, so it was my turn.
I’ve got some great stories and I love telling them. They’re beautiful marks of the grace of God at work as I’ve seen him active in the world during the years I’ve been in ministry. Having delivered my stories in my usual fashion, and having finished up my tea and biscuit, I returned to the office to the clearest internal voice: ‘you need new stories!’ And I was like ‘YES! I DO!’
I realised in that moment that all the stories I’d told were at least 7 years old. They were, of course, Salvation Army stories. I am, at heart, as you all know, a Salvationist. That experience profoundly impacted and shaped my life for good and ill: the people I met and worked amongst; the missional exploits; the thrill of tangible transformation in peoples lives; investing in the lives of those on the margins. All yesterday’s stories. Precious; part of the important memory bank; but, yesterday’s stories nonetheless.
Now, I’ll have to figure out why the stories of the last 7 years didn’t really figure as obvious ones to tell. It’s not that nothing has happened. Is it because my identity is still so wrapped up in who I was instead of who I have become? Or is it, simply, that this ‘pastoring’ business simply removes us from the front line of battle as disciples where it really matters? There will always be a sense of being called to train, equip, inspire release, but we’re definitely losing the plot if we’re not on the front line creating new Kingdom stories. If I am not ‘going’, how can I dare ask anyone else to ‘go’?
I need new stories: ones that we’ll tell each other in Glory. Stories of grace, transformation, love, Kingdom come. Stories of victories, losses, stalemates and mysteries. And the King on the Throne will say ‘oh, I remember that one…wasn’t that just beautiful?’
Yes, Jesus, you write them best.