Reflecting on Stories of Life 

I recently read the 2023 Stories of Life anthology, Terracotta Travellers and Other Stories of Life, and I found myself deeply moved by the tales I absorbed. Each narrative described unique ways of meeting God, like facets of a turning kaleidoscope. Some were mundane (not that there’s anything mundane about God), some were extraordinary and some were once-in-a-lifetime events. 

One author told a story of how she went camping solo for the first time ever after a separation. On that camping trip, she discovered things about herself: what she could do, what she liked, what her capabilities were. She also encountered God on that trip and it seemed she was on a road (so to speak) of discovery. 

Another writer regaled me with her tale of a near-death experience and how the Lord was her Shepherd during that time. It served to remind me of my own health challenges—nothing quite so dramatic as a near-death experience, but dramatic enough—and how God has shepherded me through those tough times too. 

It served to remind me of how God has shepherded me through my tough times too.

Yet another author revealed the touching moment of witnessing the mind of her dear friend slipping away from her, and in that moment how the Spirit whispered, ‘Dear friend’ to the author, bringing her comfort when she needed it most. As I read that, I felt it too, the gentle voice of the Spirit calling me, ‘Dear friend.’ And I felt the tears well up in my eyes; I hadn’t known I needed that comfort until the Spirit brought it to me—through the words of another writer. 

Still another writer shared a time on a mission trip in the slums, where in the middle of a horrible place she spotted a lone lily radiating its beauty for anyone who cared to notice it. I was beset by wonder—how God places his glory and beauty in small and hidden things, like us, like others, to see and be seen by those of us who bother to look. I was struck by the vulnerability of a lily that was stunning not because it tried to be, but because that was how its Creator made it to be. 

I was best by wonder—how God places his glory and beauty in small and hidden things, like us.

There were many other story moments: deaths and near-death experiences; music materialising at much-needed moments; quirky personality traits that resonated with me; monsters that dwell within us, seen and loved by God; God’s presence in everyday moments as well as in the miraculous, there for the noticing. Each moment, each tale, was a testimony to God’s goodness. 

Even in re-reading my own story, Kindling, I was stunned by the presence of hope in a time of terrifying illness. This surprised me, for at the time of the illness, I was besieged by hopelessness. I felt as though hope had gone AWOL—permanently. But as I read my own words, I could see how I kept turning to God again and again, even while wrestling with faith, even without hope. I saw how there must have been the tiniest speck of hope still inside me if I was to turn to God at all. 

There must have been the tiniest speck of hope still inside me if I was to turn to God at all.

I finished the book feeling satiated. I had witnessed God’s faithfulness in many ways as I journeyed through the book, and I had encountered God himself a few times as I read. As the back cover of Terracotta Travellers says, ‘At any moment, our God of love may meet us’. And meet me he did. 

Do you find it helpful or uplifting to read testimonies of other Christians? Do you have a ‘story of life’ you might want to share someday? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation. 

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