By Merlin BuhlAs soon as I turned the ignition key, the speakers erupted to life with thunderous noise spewing a rap song. As I struggled to find the volume knob, I quickly noticed that the f-word was being used more than if a sailor had smashed his thumb with a hammer.
While I am used to being “in the world” and not shocked by others’ language, I was horrified that this was my 16-year-old son’s car. My heart sank into the pit of my stomach as I realized that this was what my son had chosen to listen to. And he had just returned from a ball game with his friends in the car. I was a heartbroken father.
Fortunately, in my counseling training, I was taught never to show any shock to what is being shared. This has been very helpful in our role as parents to 9 kids, 4 cats, and a dog! So, I calmly reached out to my son and asked if we could have a chat when he got home that night. He immediately apologized for the music and agreed to talk later that evening.
He came home about 10:30 p.m. and explained to me that he and his friends used that music to get pumped up for games. I asked him what kind of witness he thought this was to his friends, some of whom are not believers. His response? “Dad, to be honest, I’m not sure I even believe in God anymore.”
My heart leapt. My pulse quickened. My mind raced … This was awesome! He trusted me enough to be honest with me. Suddenly the music choice was a complete non-issue. It was merely a symptom. Our lives were about to intersect in a God ordained, powerful way.
In college and beyond, I had struggled with those same doubts and questions, so I was able to emotionally and intellectually take a seat beside him. We looked at this question and others from a shared perspective as we talked into the night about eternal matters. He found a safe place with me and, more importantly, with God to ask his questions and express his doubts. My son was on a journey to find his own path to God, and I was invited to intersect with my God story. A father’s broken heart turned into a father’s thankful heart.
How about you? Do you have people in your life who need the grace, mercy, and love of the Father you know? Your kids? Your grandkids? Spouse? Friends? Employees? Do they need a safe place to be honest? Do you feel they are not watching you or do not care what you think?
In a recent survey, 98% of people from the ages of 13-29 stated they would find the faith story of their parents and grandparents very interesting and valuable.
They want a real personal connection with you! God is calling you to intersect their story with your story.
Your God story is to be celebrated because it is amazing. We all have a unique path to faith in Christ. Some came to Christ at an early age. Some get preoccupied with material or vocational pursuits. Some run roads of self-absorption and debauchery before embracing the saving grace of God. Regardless the path, the end result is the same. Because of what Jesus did, we are saved from our sins and are awarded eternal life with Him. This is a drastically different outcome than that of the unbeliever. It’s amazing because your story is the only story like it in all the people that have ever lived. It’s amazing because you get to experience joy in His presence, forever. It’s amazing because God wants to use your unique God story to touch others with His story.
God’s story is to be trusted because it is true. Every person would agree that if they could live forever in perfect peace and joy, then they would do whatever it took to obtain this future. The Christian’s hope is that we believe this is actually true and can be obtained through Christ. Why do we believe this? Through our experience with God and the reasoning of our minds, we have become convinced of the truth of the gospel. There are many solid reasons to be confident that the Christian faith is indeed true. But many stumble here. In fact, J. Warner Wallace stated, “Ex-Christians often leave the church because they don’t think anyone in the church can answer their questions or make a case.” God used others to help you to His love and grace. God also wants to use you to articulate the reasons for the hope that lies within you (1 Peter 3:15 paraphrased).
Their story is to be intersected with your story because God wants others to experience His story. You are a living story being written by the hand of God. Your life is part of God’s story. Every person you come into contact with is a person God loves and is pursuing. Each person could be a divine appointment for you to participate by sharing God’s story. Whether it be a gentle word, a kind act, a gift, a word of encouragement, a prayer, a Scripture passage, an apologetic truth, a glass of water, a simple meal, or your complete faith story, these are all used by God to intersect people’s story with His story. If you truly believe the hope that lies within you and grasp its significance, the love of God will ooze out of every pore of your life. When you do this with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15b), God will use your story to intersect others story with His story.
So here is the “rest of the story.” After 7 years of our lives intersecting over the topic of faith, I felt it was time to give my 23-year-old son my complete faith story. Here is his response: “When my dad first handed his story to me, I wept, as I realized that he had poured his heart and soul into sharing his story with me. It meant so much that he would share his journey with me as I am on my own journey to a relationship with God. The book was amazing, made me tear up a few times every time I read it. I love how he had the pictures as they gave an emotional touch to each part of the story. This book is something I will keep with me forever. It’s a resource that I will be able to use for the rest of my life during the hard times and the good. Let alone, I will be able to share this with my future wife and kids.”
Our passion at My Hope To You is to prepare you for those God ordained intersections by helping you celebrate, articulate, and share your God story. We can assist in writing your story, helping your articulate the reasons why Christianity is true, as well as creating and publishing your God story in a legacy faith book for your kids and grandkids. Please visit www.myhopetoyou.org. Everyone has a story to tell. Let us help you tell yours!
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Merlin Buhl, MA, a former business owner, is now a self-employed entrepreneur experiencing God’s provision each and every day. He is and his wife, Theresa, co-founded My Hope To You, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people tell their faith story, including the reasons why they believe what they believe. They are parents to 7 children and 2 special nephews, grandparents to 4 amazing children (with probably many more coming someday). They live in Holland, MI. Merlin is available to come and speak about the importance of having a firm grasp on our hope in Christ and always be ready to pass it to others, leaving a spiritual legacy that will outlive us. Visit www.myhopetoyou.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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