Linking with #FridayFive at mrsdisciple.com. I don’t manage to participate in this link-up as much I’d like to, but I knew I had to take part when I saw the prompt for this week.
I have always recognised Bible stories as something powerful. They were the way I first discovered God as a child. Now I often have the privilege of sharing Bible stories as part of the school curriculum (in the UK) with children, many of whom are hearing them for the first time. In this setting it is simply educating them about what Christians believe and I can’t say much beyond telling the story, but I believe the Word of God has power and the stories speak for themselves.
I had fun thinking about my five favourite Bible stories and what they have meant to me:
1. Joseph (Genesis 37-50)
Probably my favourite Bible story of all time. It is the first story I remember hearing as a child. (I had definitely heard others before but it is the first one I remember.) It was at a church club when I was about seven years old and the story was told in installments over several weeks. Because I had never heard it before I remember the excitement of going each week to find out the next part of the story. It really brought it to life for me. Leaving Joseph in prison and having to wait until the following week to find out what happened gave some small sense of how it was for him to be waiting, not knowing how it would turn out. I learned that following God is no guarantee that life will be good or fair, but was reassured that, ultimately, God has a plan.
It was also the first story I read in an actual Bible. Around the same time I was desperate to read the Bible for myself. I had a Bible I had been given as a baby, which I tried to read, but it was the King James Version and it was too hard. One day, in the church, I picked up a Bible and managed to find the story of Joseph. I was so excited to find it in a version that I could read for myself. I asked for a Bible for Christmas that year, and reading it has been a part of my life ever since.
2. Jesus calms the storm (Mark 4:35-41)
When I was about eight, my class led a school assembly and my role was to read this story from the Bible. I don’t remember it at all but my mum remembers it vividly. After days of practising and being told to read it in a “nice, loud voice” I went to the assembly and was handed a microphone for the first time ever. (Why would you do that to a child?) Apparently I spoke in a “nice, loud voice” and almost deafened the entire audience!
It didn’t put me off the story. Fear is something I’ve struggled with the whole of my life and as a child I had fears that weren’t listened to or understood, but I learned to turn to God when I could talk to no-one else. This story reassured me that Jesus was with me and could deal with my fear.
3. The woman who touches Jesus’ cloak (Mark 5:24-34)
I relate to this woman a lot. For years I felt like I was hiding at the back of the crowd, desperately wishing for healing, believing Jesus had power to heal, but held back by a feeling of being different from everyone else and a sense of being “unclean”, wanting to draw close to him but hardly daring to believe he would bother with me.
But there was also the determination to persevere, to do what it took to get close to Jesus, and then finally a moment of transformation, where the shame was removed and the years of waiting gave way to a freedom that changed everything.
4. John the Baptist in prison (Matthew 11:2-15)
This is a more obscure one but I’ve always liked this story. John knew who Jesus was. He had pointed Jesus out as the Lamb of God, and he had seen the Holy Spirit descend on him at his baptism. But as he sits in prison, he begins to doubt and sends his disciples to ask if Jesus really is the Messiah. This reassures me that it’s not only me who has these moments when, despite the fact that you know who God is, he doesn’t seem to be acting in your situation, and the doubts creep in.
I love how Jesus responds- he doesn’t criticise John for doubting; he simply points out the evidence that God is at work and encourages him to keep going. Then he goes on to publicly affirm John before the crowd. This encourages me that I can be honest with God, even about my doubts.
5. Elijah and the widow (1 Kings 17:8-16)
This story has encouraged me many times when I’ve felt inadequate for what God is asking me to do. The first time I led a camp for young people it felt like a task that was just too hard, and I remember thinking the day before that I couldn’t do it- I didn’t have what it would take to get through the week. God reminded me of this story and reassured me that I might not have all I needed for the week, but I had enough for that moment, and I needed to keep giving what I had and trust him to top it up.
He did. I had exactly what I needed each moment and the camp was a success. Just to hammer the lesson home, as I arrived home after the camp and parked the car, it suddenly began to rain- some of the heaviest rain I have ever seen. I would have been drenched even making the short journey to the house, and as I sat there, waiting for it to ease, the words from this passage flashed through my mind. There will always be enough “until the time when the Lord sends rain.”
Just to finish, I also love this story because of the response of a child I told it to a few years ago. I explained how Elijah asked the widow to bring him food and promised that God would provide. Then I asked, “What would you do if you were the widow? Would you believe what Elijah said?”
This very sweet and innocent looking ten year old answered, “I’d give it a try. I’m not sure if it would work, but it might… and if not I would just kill Elijah for meat!”
These are some Bible stories that have meant a lot to me. What about you? I’d love it if you’d share in the comments, or else write your own post and link up at mrsdisciple.com