Now that my toddler is old enough to acquire for himself, we’ve been working on teaching the boys the value of sharing. Sometimes, they’re great at it, and other times, we take a trip to meltdown city, where I play sheriff and tell my 3 year old he may not hoard toys. “All the toys belong to me,” I remind him, “and I gave them to you and can also give them to him. You have to share.” He doesn’t like that, but he gets it.
A few parenting articles have come out explaining to other parents why they don’t ask their kids to share with strangers. They say in the real world, I don’t just share my car with someone who wants to use it, I’m not going to force my kid to share their toy just because someone else wants it. I think this points out something about sharing society as a whole has missed: it can’t be coerced or forced, but is an extension of something recognized as valuable to someone else to create an enhanced experience for all involved.
We as a culture just don’t value sharing, until we need something and even then, there’s a shame in having to ask for something that belongs to someone else. Maybe this is the reason the idea of a “personal relationship with Christ” is so prevalent in the church, not in the sense that your parent’s faith isn’t enough to establish a relationship with God for you, but that your relationship with God is YOURS and nobody gets to ask about it, let alone say anything about it.
This personalization of our faith makes us feel uncomfortable to pray out loud in a group, or share our testimony with people. When asked what our relationship with God is like, we keep it short, so as to avoid all judgement of someone who might think we’re “not doing it right.” Or, if we’re not afraid of having our faith analyzed, we deny that sharing our stories can enhance our own or anyone else’s faith, so we stay quiet.
Revelation 12 says that the accuser of the brethren, which we hold as an illustration of Satan, was hurled down, and that believers triumphed over him by the blood of Christ and the word of their testimony. (vs 10-11) Stories of faith, beginning in Exodus when Moses commanded the people to observe the Passover and tell future generations of what the Lord had done, going all the way to Paul, who by sharing his revelation of Christ even in suffering from jail stirred the new, growing church into life and what we know today, embolden our communities, give confidence where there is apprehension, and beats back the darkness that so many of us encounter on a daily basis, both for ourselves and each other.
Your stories have power. So much power that Satan works overtime to keep you thinking that they’re not important or worth sharing so that our silence would create and foster disorientation, doubt and a spirit that is overwhelmed instead of one that overcomes.
I encourage you, whether your story is dramatic like mine or consistent and sweet like so many that I know, tell someone what the Father has done in your life. All of our stories are His, and He wants us to share with each other what He’s done in our lives so that collectively, we would understand His heart to greater degrees, so that we would be roused by each other’s victories and so with Him, we would overcome that which would seek to enslave us.