Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My Friend.... Engaging in Story-Life Inside a Story

Engaging in Story

Downloadby Jeff Vanderstelt May 6, 2010

Life Inside a Story

Everyone Has a Dominant Story

Every person you encounter, every community you enter into and every culture you engage has a dominant Story with many sub-stories. The Dominant Story is the most prominent, compelling and controlling informant for how people perceive God, others and the world. Some call this a worldview because it is the lens through which they view the world. One’s worldview shapes how they receive and process information, engage in relationships, make decisions and shape their philosophy and beliefs. You can discover a person’s dominant story by asking questions.

Complete this sentence with the first 3-5 descriptions that come to your mind “God is…”






Write down the three words that come to your mind when you hear the word “Father”:




How you responded reveals part of your Story…How you describe God is connected to your dominant Story…What you think of Father comes from your dominant Story…

IN GROUPS: Discuss how you believe Your Story shapes your response…


When I read the above exercise it came at a very amazing time. It was clear that God was showing me a new way to think about people as well as myself.

I had worked for many hours on this video. It is a video about homeless women. Though I was not able to capture all the aspects of homelessness well, the intent was to show that drugs are a huge contributor to homelessness. It really gave me new insight into the plight that many, not only women but me as well, have in regards to homelessness. This video, even after making it, continued to disturb me.

Little did I know what God was preparing me for.

Since we had arrived in the Seattle area some 2 - 2 1/2 months prior, I had been dying to go downtown Seattle in order to take pictures as well as to observe the people. Interestingly the day that I had scheduled to go downtown happened to be the same day that a pastor from Mars Hill agreed to meet with me. This pastor at one time had been a homeless addict who had been saved by the grace of God. Unfortunately the meeting was canceled and I was never able to visit with him.

During my time downtown I took hundreds of photos; photos of buildings, photos of alleys; photos of people; photos of posters; photos of gum wall, you name it. If it was interesting, I took a picture of it.

Having never ridden the light rail system here in Seattle, I decided that since my feet were killing me from walking who knows how many miles, I would hop aboard and ride out to the airport and back. We had traveled no more than two stops when a rough looking lady came and sat by me. You could tell that she had lived a life that no father would ever want his daughter to live. Some of her front teeth were gone. Her hair was dry and brittle. Her skin was weathered. Her hands did not look like the hands of one who has spent the majority of their time in-doors.

Soon after sitting she pulled out a hard back, black Bible and opened to Romans chapter 8. When I noticed what book she was reading I told her that Romans was my favorite book of the Bible. She smiled and said, "ya me too". She then stated that though she loved the God's Word, there was a lot that she still did not understand. She asked me if I would help explain to her what a particular section in the Bible was saying.

I joyfully went through these verses explaining to the best of my ability what Paul was saying as he wrote this.

I do not remember exactly how but we got on the topic of how she came to Christ. She told me that a year before, she had been homeless, a drug addict and a lesbian but God had delivered her from her life style (from her sin). She was now sharing her love for Jesus with all her old friends, as well as all who would listen to her, both friends or strangers.

She shared that as a little girl, her father had molested her often and that her view of what a father was, made her want to have NOTHING to do with God the Father.

She said, "The only understanding I had of what a father was... was horrible. I did not want to even get close to God because I was afraid of Him. I was afraid that if I let Him get too close to me, He would do horrible things to me. I was afraid of Him and did not want to have anything to do with Him."

She went on to tell me how a year ago she came to know her heavenly Father and was amazed that He was nothing like the father who had molested her as a little girl! She said that her heavenly Father loved her. She said that she could not get over the love that He had for her. She was truly amazed.

Not long after meeting my friend Colleen I came across "Engaging in Story-Life Inside a Story". I saw how Colleen's story is a perfect example of this exercise. Her whole worldview was affected by how her earthly father had treated her. Her understanding of who God is had been so distorted that it caused her to run from Him.

Jeff Vanderstelt wrote in this exercise, "How you responded reveals part of your Story…How you describe God is connected to your dominant Story…What you think of Father comes from your dominant Story…" hit the nail on the head. Jeff went on to write, "His Story precedes, finishes, corrects and ultimately makes sense of all other stories. " and I was privileged to be able to hear how He had worked in her life to correct it and how He was making sense of it.

To see God's hand in this is humbling. To have been able to be a part of her God story, of having the great honor of explaining the text that she was inquiring about makes me wonder if He had sent an angel to sit by me on my way to the airport. :) The reason I say this is because of the passage that she asked me to explain to her. My time here in Seattle, the relationships I have made, the things I have learned, the materials I have "stumbled" upon, the teachers I have come across has been too perfect, too perfect to be just "coincidence". It is clear that God's providence is clearly being played out.

The two pictures in this post are of her. Unfortunately neither are very good but they did capture the time with her well. One is of her pointing to the passage in question and the other is after she had gotten off the train and as the train was passing, she was waving to say good bye not knowing for sure which car I was on.

As I type this I praise God for the work He has done in my life as my 5 year old daughter climbs on me kissing me, squeezing me and telling me that she loves me.

God is good.

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