Around our house, weekends are often spent catching up. Charlotte is teaching summer school and my weeks are generally full. So much of what has to get done around our house will happen on Saturday. Usually, there is mowing and weed-eating to be done (and yes, it is nice to have our youngest daughter home this summer to help with this). There are clothes to be washed and usually somebody will make a trip to the grocery store. Of course, Sunday falls in the middle of all this. Generally, I will spend a few hours on Saturday, going over my notes. I will discover something that needs changing, adjusting, clarifying, etc.
Usually, we will try to do something fun during the weekend. Last Friday evening, we met some very good friends at a Mexican restaurant. After a great meal, we drove to a nearby Starbucks. After getting drinks, we sat down to visit. These friends are very comfortable people to be with. So we sat outside Starbucks for a long time telling stories. At one point, Charlotte turned to the guy and said, "You should write a book!" (He should).
Our friend is a storyteller–and a good one. Charlotte’s dad was a good storyteller as well. His conversations and sermons would often be punctuated with a story or two. These stories had color and detail. He once told the story of an evening Muscle Shoals, Alabama, on a very special night, April 8, 1974. He was missing the game. The Atlanta Braves were playing the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was the evening in which Hank Aaron would break Babe Ruth’s record for hitting the most home runs. My father-in-law was scheduled to preach that evening in a North Alabama church. He told of driving home afterward, very conscious that he had missed this great game.
He spoke of stopping at a traffic light and in the lane next to him, a friend pulled up in his car. The friend’s electric window slowly began to come down. "Hey Charlie! Where were you when Hank Aaron hit number 715?" My father-in-law said that for a few moments, he thought about the game and what had happened. But then, he thought about what he had been doing that evening and the importance of preaching Jesus. While he would have loved to have seen the game, he was doing something very significant.
Our stories tell us (and others as well) something about who we are. This is especially true when we tell stories about ourselves. I’ve noticed that people seem to really like stories I tell (in sermons or talks) where I have done something silly, foolish, goofy, etc. (Maybe it is because I have plenty of those stories to tell!) People willI often say something like, "You seem just like the rest of us!" Uhh yes…
Yet, I think I know what they may be saying. So often many of us appear to be so neatly packaged. (Sometimes ministers in particular leave that impression–or attempt to anyway). You know what I’m talking about. There are some people who just seem to be very "together." Yet, most of us are not that together. The truth is, all of have our moments. Our stories can reveal these moments.
So what is special about sitting outside a Starbucks with good friends telling stories? It becomes special when you don’t worry about how you might appear. You can just be you. Loved by God and created like no other.
Today, right now, you and I are in the middle of the story of our lives. My story has depth and meaning only because I am connected to a much larger story. This is the story of the one who came to the earth and lived as a human being for a few years. Fully human and yet fully divine. That is a story worth telling and hearing, again and again.