by Rick Warren
“Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony of God in them.” (1 John 5:10a GW)
“Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word .... The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore – you’re the message!” (1 Thessalonians 1:8 MSG)
When you became a believer, you also became God’s messenger. God wants to speak to the world through you. Paul said, “We speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17b NCV)
Your Life Message includes your life lessons. These are insights you’ve learned about God, relationships, problems, temptations, and other aspects of life. David prayed, “God, teach me lessons for living so I can stay the course.” (Psalm 119:33 MSG)
Sadly, we never learn from a lot that happens to us. Of the Israelites, the Bible says, “Over and over God rescued them, but they never learned – until finally their sins destroyed them.” (P 106:43 MSG) You’ve probably met people like that.
While it is wise to learn from experience, it is wiser to learn from the experiences of others. There isn’t enough time to learn everything in life by trial and error. We must learn from the life lessons of one another. The Bible says, “A warning given by an experienced person to someone willing to listen is more valuable than … jewelry made of the finest gold.” (Proverbs 25:12 TEV)
Write down the major life lessons you’ve learned so you can share them with others. We should be grateful Solomon did this, because it gave us the books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, which are filled with practical lessons on living. Imagine how much needless frustration could be avoided if we learned from each other’s life lessons.
Mature people develop the habit of extracting lessons from everyday experiences. I urge you to make a list of your life lessons. You haven’t really thought about them thoroughly unless you’ve written them down. Below are a few questions to jog your memory and get your started:
What has God taught me from failure?
What has God taught me from a lack of money?
What has God taught me from pain or sorrow or depression?
What has God taught me through waiting?
What has God taught me through illness?
What has God taught me from disappointment?
What have I learned from my family, my church, my relationships, my small group, and my critics?
We all have a story to share and we need to be busy sharing it! One of the best things about being in a Sunday School class or small group in a church is that you get to share your stories with others. WHY? Because in that small group setting, people will open up and it is a great place to share. As Rick said, we learn from others. We are encouraged by what God is doing in THEIR lives. It gives us HOPE that He will do the same in OUR problems! It also gives us tools to deal with similar problems in our lives. As we listen to how they handled a situation and how God moved, we think "Aha! I have not tried that" or maybe it will just encourage you that others are going through tough times too...it's not just YOU! You are not a lone ranger.
Let me illustrate with just a few examples from my own SS class over the past couple of weeks:
1. Susan shared about her battle with cancer. Not a diagnosis that she wanted to hear, BUT God is using this situation to mend relationships with her mother and her son AND it has caused her son to draw closer to God!
2. Molly has been diagnosed with MS. Her attitude has been "turn it over to God". She is not whining or being anxious. She is quietly trusting in the Lord to work it all out. Quiet strength would describe her.
3. Jerry and Karen took our missionary couple to the airport after a time of R&R here in the states. As they approached the airport, they began to search for their passports. They were no where to be found! Panic began to set it, but Jerry suggested they pull into a parking spot, pray and look again. Immediately after they prayed, the passports fell out of a pocket of the backpack almost as if they fell straight from Heaven!! There was shouting and praising the Lord!
Those are just three examples of daily events in the lives of ordinary people who took the time to share their "life stories". By their willingness to share with us, we each took something away with us for the week: encouragement, increased faith, hope, a renewed belief in the power of prayer and the knowledge that God truly does work ALL things for our good!
I hope you will take the time to look over this list and begin to think of the ways that God has impacted your life and begin to formulate your "story or life message" from those. Rehearse it to yourself or a closer friend until you feel comfortable sharing it. Then pray, and ask God to give you opportunities to share His story!