We’ve a Story to Tell – Because of What You Said, Because of What We Heard

Who doesn’t love a great story? ‘Especially if it changes your life!

Well, permit me a good story, told over and over. It could be new. Or very old. Either way, I promise you it’s a Jesus story. And it comes with all the saving power of the cross.

She is in her latter young years. “Early middle age” is no way

to describe a lady, or a woman, anyway. (Look out, UMW’s here!)

She’s still happenin’ enough fellas notice, and enough has happened to her to make folks talk, especially women folk.

Into her life comes a new man (again).

She gives him a little pleasure. It’s OK, this is church,

and all it was… was a cool drink on a hot day. But as they talk,

something cooler is shared.

She kind of gives her life away, and what she leaves out he fills in

and it isn’t very pretty. The upshot is she experiences in him,

her savior… and she goes and tells everybody she knows.

Some things cannot be kept secret.

As a result of what she says, and what her friends hear,

MANY MORE ARE SAVED. 

Ahh, many of us would call this the story of Christ, very early on the way to the cross. This is Jesus with the Samaritan woman for sure. But what if we tell the same story a very different way, like Tony Campolo does (at least as I remember it.)

Our traveler here pulls in for a bite and a drink on a hot night in a town far from home. It’s like 3 AM and the “characters of the city” are out, including this woman in her late young years. “Early middle age” is no way to describe this lady, or woman, anyway. She’s happenin’ enough fellas notice (sorry, for a price let’s say), and enough has happened to her to make folks talk, especially women folk. Tony’s plain spoken. When he says she hooks for a living he doesn’t mean she makes rugs. Well, they open up a conversation that lets her tell her story. (Through the scene, her unsavory friends happen in and out from their late night naughties) When he tells his story, he tells this thirsty soul all about the One Man who can give her a drink and leave her never-thirsty-again. He knows this man personally, he says, has been with him, knows him, is saved by his outstretched arms. “He’ll do the same for you,” says this traveler. She says, “No man would embrace me, except money changes hands.” “Miss, he’s already paid (X) for both of us and all these late night souls,” says he. Well, this brother learns tomorrow’s the woman’s birthday… so he comes again, only this time he brings a birthday cake! And the server’s gotten her friend to find some streamers and stuff, and when she comes in at her usual very late hour, they party down. The cake comes out… her name’s on… she weeps! “Never had one,” she says, and asks before it’s cut to take it two doors down to wake her mom and show it to her. They’d never shared a birthday cake before. 

A year or two later, much closer to here, these two meet again. She knows him right away! They catch up. She’s moved back this way. ‘Has a job… daytime… and better, she hungers and thirsts no more. At the end she says something like, “I want to thank you again for the cake and the cross. I’ll never forget the unexpected love-from-a-stranger in that cake. But it’s gone. The cross-love you showed, though, that’ll last me all the way to forever. I told all my old friends all about it. Not everybody believes it. But those who do have met Jesus. Their lives are new, like mine. And all of us keep giving it away. (We even buy somebody a cake now and then.) Thanks for my cake. But thank you more for my Savior!” 

The Good Book says, long ago, “Many Samaritans from that city believed in Jesus because of the woman's testimony. Come and see!” “Can this be the Christ?!” Because of what she said… about her meeting with Jesus… and because of what they heard in her story that touched their stories, many believed. Because of what Tony Campolo said about his meeting with Jesus… to someone who’d never met Jesus at all… and because of what her friends saw and heard from her of his love in a cake and on the cross, even  for them, many believed. And they met Jesus. And asked him to stay in their lives. He did and does.

You never know. You might be surprised. And the difference could make all-the-difference-in-the-world. That’s how much what you and I say, and what folks hear from us… means to God. And means to them. So whether you’ve stood at the baptismal font, or watched, or let a little of your light shine with a UMW candle, or given a recognized lifetime of service… one way or another… make sure you tell your story, your faith story to everyone you can.

You don’t need a degree. Lightening bolts are not required. You can tell about him in every moment, or some special moment. No matter. Eloquence ain’t needed. Just pull up a stool by somebody. Maybe you know ‘em. Maybe not. Let them weave their story. Knit yours with them. Especially your Jesus story. And because of what you said, and because of what they heard, many more will believe… that…

      While we were still weak,

      at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

      Even us. Even them. Thank God.

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