Why we need your whispered stories
It struck me the other day, as I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram, that Jesus could have come at a time when it was easier to get information. He could have come after the printing press was invented. He could have come when the radio became popular. Or the television. Or when news channels went to twenty-four hours. Or today—when every detail of every life can be chronicled and published for the world to see should they care to look. He could have at least waited for trains to be invented. Or cars. Or planes. Or really anything automated.
But He didn’t.
He came when men still had to take boats across a lake to deliver news. A time when women went to the well for water and walked away with information too. A time when far away was two-towns over, and two-towns over was at least a day away.
And I started to wonder about His timing.
Because I’m pretty sure Jesus knew that all of this was coming—mass production, mass transit, mass communication.
And I’m pretty sure He didn’t just get impatient and jump the gun.
So He must have known something.
And maybe it was this—that the whispered story sometimes holds more power than the published one.
That watching a few walk in the truth of their convictions holds more sway than watching the masses proclaim them.
I was thinking about this in the context of my own life. And here I am, writing a blog, so don’t hear me wrong: I’m not anti-mass-media of any kind really. I think some of it is helpful. And I think a lot of it is fun. But I’m pro-small-media too.
I’m pro-dinner around the table.
I’m pro-coffee on the couch.
I’m pro-random text messages to your closest friends.
I’m pro-tell me what’s going on with you.
I’m pro-listening to the answer.
The people whose stories speak the loudest to me are those people who pull up chairs around my table, who pull their feet up on my couch, who don’t just show up occasionally but who actually settle in. They know their way around my kitchen and aren’t afraid to help themselves. They invite me into theirs to do the same.
The people whose stories speak the loudest are the people whose stories I don’t just know but whose stories I am actually a part of, who are actually a part of mine.
Their faith challenges me. I’ve seen the gold that God has refined, but I’ve also seen the searing. I’ve watched them fight Him and finally give in. I know that it hurt. I know that their faith has been fought for. I know that there have been days that they have wanted to give up. I know that there have been treasured moments, too.
And they have watched me struggle. And celebrate. And act a fool. They have forgiven me when I have hurt them. They know details that would bore you to tears. They know that there have been days that I have not been sure that God was near or even that I wanted Him to be near. They know why.
I have asked our Father to do for them what I would never have been bold enough to ask Him to do for me. I have watched our Father be faithful to them. I have wept with gratefulness when He was. And my own faith has been strengthened. My own hope has been restored.
The stories that shout the loudest of the faithfulness of God are the ones whispered right here in my living room. The stories that we only know in part because we are still living them. We live right in the middle of the unresolved and the still unclear. We struggle right through the what-ifs and the if-onlys.
These stories are more lived than told.
These prayers are more perceived than spoken.
This faith is more leaned-upon than lauded.
And God is somehow seen most clearly right here in the middle of the muddling through.
Don’t misunderstand me. These people—my family and friends, they aren’t perfect. Neither am I. We keep forgetting that the ones we hold the closest are the ones who can hit the hardest. Proximity people. It’s a real thing. And familiarity is a two-edged sword. And comfort with another sometimes means you say stupid things. No, these people aren’t perfect. But that’s probably the only reason they haven’t given up on me.
And these stories—these lives—they speak the loudest of our God.
And maybe that’s what Jesus knew: that the quiet voices closest to us would manage to speak louder than the world.
And maybe that’s why He came when conversations only happened face-to-face and couriers still delivered letters hand-to-hand. Maybe that’s why He came when feet still walked well-worn paths together and women still drew daily water at the well.
When far apart was much farther removed. But when nearby still meant together.
And maybe it's why we still crave company. Maybe it's why we still gather even when it's hard. Maybe it's why we still want to know and be known--really, up close, in person. Maybe it's why we listen in awe of the shouted stories, the published ones, the incredible ones. But we listen with lumps in our throats and grateful tears in our eyes to the everyday stories that happen right here in our midst.
The whispered stories are still the ones that speak the loudest of the faithfulness of God.
Because the whispered stories are the ones lived out by those we know and love and linger with around the table--the ones close enough that we can hear the whisper.
And maybe—I’m not sure how, but it’s happened before—the world will somehow hear all these whispers as one collective shout of a Father who loves them, of a Savior who came for them, of a Spirit who still speaks.
Of a God who still whispers in a world gone wild.