From Mess to Message
God has given Carol a message. Many of us also have a message to share. Carol shares some ideas about how to overcome fear and share your faith.
Life Changing Situations
The combination of everything we experience, enjoy, and endure forms the story of our lives. Looking back at the stories of life-changing situations, forgiveness, and faith can help us understand our lives better. It helps us notice where God has worked as we review the messes, mistakes, and muddied disasters which may have accumulated through the years. We see where He brought us from and realize the messages of hope we received and the glimpses of joy too.
I Peter 3: 15 (NIV) says,
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
Relating Through Stories
We relate to each other through stories; they become points of connection. People are more receptive to a story than to preaching. There are people who want to hear the good news, the happy endings, and the stories of transformation, yet they don’t want to listen to Bible stories. They want modern day stories because they feel like they can relate to better.
Telling Your Faith Story
Telling your faith story helps other people know they are not alone in the difficult situations they might be facing. Stories are such a powerful influence. When we share what God has done in our lives we can point others to Jesus.
But fear often holds people back from sharing the stories of God working through difficult times in their lives. This fear could be a lack of confidence. We may fear stumbling over our words, stuttering, or forgetting what we want to say. Sometimes we might be afraid of judgement and rejection by the listeners. We might think we don’t have anything others will want to listen to. There are so many reasons we share only with someone really close to us but not with a larger audience.
Even Moses, as he stood at the burning bush, argued with God about his lack of speaking skills and his fear of rejection. (Exodus 3 & 4) In Exodus 4: 12 God tells Moses, “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”
How I Struggled With Depression
I remember the first time I ever shared about how I struggled with depression when I spoke at a ladies retreat. I didn’t want to talk about it as the speaker that weekend. I didn’t know these ladies. I just knew that they were a very conservative church group and most churches don’t talk about things like that. But God insisted and He was right there with me. It helped one young lady know she wasn’t alone in this struggle and gave her courage to talk to me and then to someone else in order to get help.
A friend and I have written a number of stories about things God has done in our lives. We gathered stories that others gave us permission to share. Now the book, Making the Crooked Places Straight, is published. It took a lot of time to get to this point and we pray that others will read these stories, some of which include big messes and the message God provided through them.
We too can trust God to give us the words to say but there are steps we can take to be prepared.
- Pray that God will give the right words and stories to share with others at the right time.
- Write out the testimony of God’s redemption and restoration in your life.
- Briefly talk about the mess—the before Christ aspect of your life. Give enough details so the listener understands what needed to change in your life. Don’t glorify the past but be honest. This is a vulnerable place to be as the person sharing. After all we would rather not talk about the tough things and only share the good stuff, but this allows others to identify their needs with your own.
- Talk about how Jesus made the difference for you and what that means using words everyone can understand instead of using churchy language. For example instead of saying I was saved, say I was forgiven of wrongs and given eternal life.
- Tell about life after choosing to follow Jesus. This is the message of change—transformation—through God’s love and work in you as well as your hope. Change is an ongoing process.
- End well with a challenge to your listener, an invitation to talk later if they are interested in knowing more about how God can take their mess and give them a message.
- Practice sharing your testimony with someone else who will give you feedback. This will help you improve your ability to speak in public.
- Be available and willing to walk through any doors God opens, trusting him to equip you to share your story of transformation. Be aware of opportunities with your colleagues, neighbours, family members, friends and larger audiences to talk about what God has and is doing in your life through personal story.
Sharing our stories of how God gave us a message from the messes in our lives becomes a powerful tool for transformation as we introduce others to Jesus through His work in our lives.
Carol Harrison B.Ed is a speaker and published author with one book, Amee’s Story and stories in twelve anthologies. She is passionate about helping people of all ages and ability levels find their voice and reach their fullest potential.
She knows, through personal experience that some of life’s experiences are tougher than others. She encourages people that even in the twists and turns of life God’s amazing grace provides hope.
She lives in Saskatoon, SK with her husband Brian. They have four adult children and a dozen grandchildren.