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Following an “Aha!” Story Thread

Why look back at stories, events which happened in your past, that are linked together?

As I’ve said before, there are three major benefits: Enlightenment, encouragement, and entertainment. Sometimes it’s a combination of these.

A conversation with a friend precipitated a look back at a number of the churches my wife and I had attended over the years. They covered multiple denominations and several cities around the country. Two incidents stood out at that moment of reflection.

The first was the re-affirmation of our wedding vows on our twenty-fifth anniversary. There were about sixty people present on this beautiful October afternoon. Sunlight streamed through the stained glass windows accenting the warmth of the varnished oak pews and the wood trim in the sanctuary. At the point where the minister asked us to repeat our traditional vows, we heard behind us the muffled sound of the guests repeating them to each other along with us. The minister had not suggested it, nor was it in the program. It was a happening. The result was uplifting. It created a peaceful feeling that is difficult to describe, yet one we will never forget. Even the pastor was emotionally moved.

In another church of a different denomination, I was asked to preach one Sunday. The minister was to be absent that morning, and trusted me with the service. I had prepared with all due diligence. I had four sheets of legal-sized yellow paper filled to overflowing. I was prepared! The sermon was supposed to last twenty minutes, and I was sure I would run overtime if I delivered it all I’d written down.

I was a bit rattled - no, I was shocked! - when I came to the end of the fourth page, only to find that I still had twelve minutes left. What happened next I can hardly explain. I felt as if I had stepped back from my body, told the author of the sermon that I was done and that it was His job to take over. He did apparently, for the sermon went the full twenty minutes. At that time, we recorded the sermons for the shut-in members’ benefit. I still have that tape. It’s the most interesting sermon I’ve ever heard, much less given. I was the mouthpiece, but the content was certainly not mine. It fit perfectly with my plans for the sermon, but wasn’t what I had written. At least not the last twelve minutes!

I share these stories as an example of the benefit of connecting our stories. I leave it to you to categorize them if you must. For me, they are part of my life and show me the importance of recognizing our spiritual journey. As my rocket scientist friend says, “There’s a whole universe out there, whether or not you choose to explore it.”

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