I recently rediscovered a collection of letters that my father wrote during his time overseas during the Vietnam War era (he served in the Air Force in parts of Thailand). It’s a fascinating, strange, wonderful and heartbreaking thing to read letters from a loved one who passed. To be frank, it took me a little off-guard because I’m surprised at how well I know the man writing those letters 8 years before I was born.
That time in my family’s story has always been an enigmatic black hole to me because I didn’t even exist during this life-changing (not necessarily for the better) season in the lives of both of my parents as well as my brother. Nonetheless, I hear my dad’s voice and recognize his character in those words even as I discover new facets of his story. It’s almost bizarre to hear the origin of some of our family’s oft-told tales alongside glimpses of my father’s inner life that became covered over in later years. For the good, the interesting, the surprising and the strange – I’m thankful to hear more of his story and the experiences that shaped who he became later in life.
There is something powerful about hearing another person’s story, whether they are family, friend or stranger. The simple act of sharing fosters a kind of intimacy and bond that seems rare in today’s world. It also functions as a safeguard against believing mistakenly that God is finished doing great things in this world. When we hear the stories of our brothers and sisters – particularly those about what God has done in, through, around us – we’re reminded that God’s story isn’t finished. We’re also reminded that ours is not yet complete.
I can’t wait to explore the stories of 4 members of our church over the next several weeks! You’re going to hear from three veterans, those in their 20’s, those in their 70’s and those in between, one who met Christ on the field of battle, another found God in community and still another found Christ in an extraordinary time of need. These are the kinds of stories that open our hearts, minds and eyes to the innumerable ways in which God is still at work among us, and promises to deepen our sense of community and commitment to Christ!