I entered the room with reverence, just as I did every week prior. The familiar presence of dusty books and sweet perfume filled my senses as I perched myself in the creaky wooden chair. I held a throw pillow tightly against my tummy, almost as if to brace myself for the next hour of raw conversation. We met in an old office building, but for a short sixty minutes, it felt like we were in a secret, holy place. Jesus was in that room. Maybe that’s just what happens when we tell our stories. Maybe that’s why God commanded over and over for us to tell future generations about his faithfulness in our lives. Regardless, she steadily laid bare her hopes and hurts for this young 20-something to see, and it changed me. It gave me perspective for my own life and ministry that I would not have otherwise gained. My faith is firmly rooted because a woman 30 years my senior let me into the most tender parts of her walk with God.
In the Old Testament, there is a strong leader named Joshua. Moses led the Israelites before him and taught Joshua all about God’s goodness and might. When Moses died, Joshua led the people with courage and compassion. But Joshua dies in Judges 2. Here’s what happened (Judges 2:7-15):
And the Israelites served the Lord throughout the lifetime of Joshua and the leaders who outlived him—those who had seen all the great things the Lord had done for Israel. Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110. They buried him in the land he had been allocated, at Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash. After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel. The Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight and served the images of Baal. They abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They went after other gods, worshiping the gods of the people around them. And they angered the Lord. They abandoned the Lord to serve Baal and the images of Ashtoreth. This made the Lord burn with anger against Israel, so he handed them over to raiders who stole their possessions. He turned them over to their enemies all around, and they were no longer able to resist them. Every time Israel went out to battle, the Lord fought against them, causing them to be defeated, just as he had warned. And the people were in great distress.
It’s easy to look at those who are younger and bemoan their insolence. But what if it isn’t entirely their fault? We affect a whole generation when we keep our stories to ourselves. Discipleship sounds scary, but it’s really just a fancy way to say: “Put Jesus on display by telling your story to someone else.” There are countless examples of these types of intergenerational relationships in Scripture – Elizabeth and Mary, Naomi and Ruth, Paul and Timothy, Moses and Joshua, Mordecai and Hadassah, and on and on. The Bible not only gives us instruction to tell future generations, it also provides countless models for how to do so.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 says, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News but our own lives, too.” The movement of the Gospel will not end with us, but we have the opportunity to love people by sharing our lives. For some, the hardest thing you will ever do is tell your story. But imagine the impact when those who hear find out that it’s Jesus who walked with you. It’s Jesus who rewrites the ending. It’s Jesus who makes the difference. Telling your story isn’t about you; it’s about Jesus.
Who will you tell?