A Story I Can Tell

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Everybody loves a good story.  I remember times when I was young sitting with my grandfather, Fred, listening to the old stories of our family’s history and how they grew up.  I heard about how they grew their own food and, how every now and then, they would get a chicken to fill their pot on the stove.  I remember hearing him talk about old cars with the crank in the front to get it started.

As a result of hearing all those stories, I grew up loving to read. I read all kinds of books; both fact and fiction, and would place myself into the story to make it real to me.  The stories I read about the Old West were my favorites.  I was always watching Roy Rogers on the black and white TV at home.  I would join Roy and Dale singing “Happy Trails” at the end of each episode.

But until the year 1999, I didn’t have a story of my own to tell.  I lived a life in the world where I tried to do the best I could.  I think I just blended in?  No particular story in my life existed.  I was enjoying the fruits of my labor but also finding myself in awful struggles and a lot of pain.

My story changed in July, 1999.  I now have a story that I can share with others… like my grandfather.  It isn’t about the times during the Great Depression, rather it’s about how my life changed in a single moment of time, during a single prayer.

My life story begins with depression over my divorce that occurred in 1998.  I was married 21 years and it was now over.  The depression grew and turned into rage, which turned into lost hope.  In July 1999 it became so real to me that I decided I would end my depression and take my life.  But “THEN”. But then a man of God, who was my boss, remained obedient and as a result my life changed forever.

Mark was a great man of God who I happened to work for.  When I asked him if I could go home from work early because I couldn’t concentrate on my work, he said, “How about if I pray for you instead.”  You see, going home early would mean that I could complete what I had planned and take my life.  What happened after that I have little recollection.  I know Mark invited me to attend his church and I felt that wasn’t going to happen.  I had never been to church since I was a child.  But all of a sudden I found myself getting ready on Sunday morning and driving to church.  That day I gave my life and my heart to the Lord Jesus Christ.  My story was being written right before my very eyes.

You see, Mark was prepared.  Mark made himself available.  Acts 8:4-6 (NIV) says this, “Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went.  Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there.  When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said.”  Philip, a disciple, made himself available.  He was available to go wherever the Lord sent him.

Mark was an effective witness by keeping the right attitude.  When Jesus talked to his disciples in Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You’re to be my witnesses.”  The word witness in Scripture is almost always a noun. A witness is who you are.  A witness tells others about what is seen and what is heard.  A witness tells a story. The key to being a witness for Jesus is living a life that people want to know more about.  I always saw Mark’s faith in his life.  I was drawn to him and the life he led.  It was very apparent.

Finally, the last key to being a good witness is in our approach.  Mark was genuinely concerned for my well-being.  He saw I was hurting.  Instead of trying to force me to hear some preaching about my worldly lifestyle, he simply said, “How about if I pray for you instead.”  No man had ever said that to me before.  I was moved to tears as Mark prayed.  The power of a single prayer changed my life forever.

As I said before, this was the beginning of my story.  My story grows each and every day as I live a life in Christ.  God has called each of us to share our story, to be witnesses for Him and speak about God’s unfailing and everlasting love.  He is looking for people who are available and who have a humble and gentle attitude.

If you would, take the time to listen to our podcast, Life on Mission: Share by Pastor Aaron Taylor (http://painesvilleag.com/life-on-mission).  And may you be challenged to write your own story.

Friends, let’s be a people who live life on Mission and who are not afraid to share about the Jesus who rescued us.  That’s a story I want to hear!

George Leonhardt,
Blogger, Writer

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