Storytellers

I was reminded of a summer evening spent with my mom at the farmer’s market. On this particular night, I had the pleasure of sitting next to a 79 year old man who was selling handmade wooden bowls. His work was beautiful, and his attention to detail was clearly displayed. You could tell he took great care in the quality and beauty of his creations and that he loved making them, too.

He had only one sale that evening: me. The shopaholic in me couldn’t hide herself any longer, and I admired his bowls too much to leave empty handed. But I think what I admired most was the personality and the story attached to the man behind the bowls.

Born in 1941, he grew up in what he claims were the best years. He was a farm boy to his core, helping his father with the cows: taking care of them, milking them, and feeding them. He baled hay, which he said was one of the most tiring tasks he has ever had to do. And as he continued to tell his story, I was blown away by the attention to detail he displayed in the timeline of his own life. He could tell you the exact year he stopped baling hay and the exact year he stopped picking fruit. This didn’t strike me as anything at first, but then I started to think about my own short life. I don’t think I can remember the exact year for anything as specific as what he could remember, and I was suddenly left feeling intrigued by not only his memory but also his intentionality in remembering the things that were important to him. And even though things like baling hay and picking fruit seem like small details in a life to me, you could tell they were big things to him. They are part of who he is today: memories tucked away, lessons learned, and friendships made.

He left me reflecting about life that day. It opened the door to a messy place in my heart: my fear that my story doesn’t matter. My fear of not making something of myself.

I went to the farmer’s market that day hoping my t-shirts would be a hit and would sell out. None of these things happened. No interest was shown. And what at first felt like a huge failure turned out to be God showing up for me in the way I have always longed someone to. He was inviting me to dig a little deeper—to find how, even in the mundane, there is beauty to behold. He was trying to show me the importance of the little moments in life. The moments that may go unseen and unheard for all my days.

At the end of our evening together, the 79 year old man said, “well, thanks for putting up with me. Thanks for letting me go on and on about my life. I’ll probably never see you again.” Though our paths will likely never cross again, I know that his story and his friendship during those four hours will forever be stamped on my heart. Because through him, I saw Jesus. I saw firsthand how my story matters to Him. I saw how He shows up in the little moments. The delight I experienced while listening to the old man’s story is the same delight someone, someday, will experience while listening to mine. And Jesus is in the midst of it all. He is the Author of the story of our lives, entangling Himself in each and every moment: both good and bad. He showed me that evening that I need to surrender my need to feel like a somebody. He reminded me that I already AM somebody, because He took great care in creating me. Just like the 79 year old man took great care in creating his bowls that he loved so much, God delights in every detail of our lives. He showed me that a life worth living is a life that lives and breathes Him. Had I never sat down at the farmer’s market that night, I would have never had the pleasure of hearing the story of this man’s life. And though it was as simple as can be, it highlighted the most important things in life: friendship, relationship, love, and the grace of God.

This man was God’s way of reminding me that even if I never do anything big or noteworthy, and even if no one on this earth remembers my name after I’m gone, my story still matters. And so does yours. It matters to your family, your friends, and to the strangers you find yourself sitting with. Whether it’s at the farmer’s market, the DMV, or the line at Walmart, your story matters to someone.

And if I walk hand in hand with Jesus and let Him be the Author of my story, well… it will always be a story worth telling.

Verses:

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” – John 14:6, ESV

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” – Revelation 22:13, ESV

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