The power of story telling
At the story slam, president Barry Corey reminisces about moments with his father. | Olivia Blinn/THE CHIMES
Wednesday night Biola wrapped up its first day of Torrey Conference 2013 with the first ever StorySlam. Excitement filled the gym as student and faculty alike packed themselves into all available seats, bleachers and open spaces.
When I walked in, I didn’t know much about tonight other than what I had inferred. With a name like StorySlam I assumed there were going to be people telling their stories and I assumed, somehow, those stories would all tie back into this year’s conference theme of “With,” but in all honesty I had no real idea of how that was going to happen.
As the first speaker, Dane Sanders, took the stage I was enchanted by the story he told. He so clearly painted the picture of him as a three-year-old boy at a party- giggling, running around, causing chaos and avoiding his dad’s discipline at the expense of his brother. The story was light hearted and charming, but as it progressed it took a tear-jerking turn. Sanders shared that the day after this story took place, was the day his dad died in a car accident. He continued, saying, from that moment on his life was changed. As Sanders got older and closer to becoming a father himself he wondered what his father would have said to him and he worried about whether or not he would know what to say to his own children. That is when he says God stepped in and spoke to him, saying, “You will hear the words your father would have said to you when they come from your own mouth as you are saying them to your children.”
Wow, I said to myself, now that is an incredible story. But, there is no way everyone else can have something that powerful, right? Wrong.
One after another speakers came up telling stories of the miraculous times God had been with them. In the devastation of a death, the burden of a financial crisis, the serendipity and awkwardness of an introduction and even in the midst of unknowingly tending to marijuana plants on a missions trip, God was there. Even though it seems as though this vast array of stories should have had no connection at all, they did. Each and every one of them spoke to the consistency and faithfulness of Emmanuel, God with us.
This had me thinking about my own life and the stories that are within it. There are stories of joy and peace and gladness and there are stories of hurt and sorrow and turmoil. There are times of understanding, wisdom and clarity and there are times of confusion and chaos where nothing seems to make sense; and for the longest time I thought these stories had no relation to another, but that is not what God says. God says, “I was and I Am and I Am to come.”
The Lord has not only been with us all the days of our lives, past and present, but as Lilana Sims said, “He is already in our tomorrow anticipating our arrival,” and that truth is what takes all of these individual stories and brings them together to proclaim one message. Just as in Aaron Adams’ story God says to all of us, “no matter who was supposed to be there and wasn’t there, who should be here and isn’t here or who will promise to be somewhere and won’t be there, it does not matter for, I was there, I am here and I will be there, always.” So take heed to that truth, hold onto it tightly and rest in the knowledge that no matter where you are in your story right now, God is with you.