January 24, 2014

Tell the Story

Nehemiah 9:1-21

[Israel] stood … and confessed their sins and the sins of their ancestors.
—Nehemiah 9:2


Eugene Peterson writes in his book Answering God, “God works with words. He uses them to make a story of salvation. He pulls us into the story. When we believe, we become willing participants in the plot… We can do this recklessly or robustly, throwing ourselves into relationships and actions. When we do this, we pray.”

Israel got pulled into the story of reconciliation by confessing their sins through prayer. But they had to prepare themselves to enter God’s arena.

First, Israel prepared an atmosphere of reconciliation. They gathered before the Lord, knowing that they and their ances-tors had all blown it. Then they fasted, pushing out sinful desires and creating space for God. Next they remembered their holy identity and separated themselves from the practices of other nations. And they told God their story of sins through prayer. There was a cycle of reading the Law, confessing their sins, and worship.

In their prayers, they gave honor and praise to God alone. They remembered that salvation was God’s idea, not theirs. Their prayers returned them to the story of God, who kept his promise to make something out of them despite their sins.

Jesus is God’s idea too. We are invited into a story we did not write. Jesus wrote us into the book of life by his great love for us, ushering us into the big story of God’s mercy and grace. That’s the story you and I get to tell!

Savior, you are the best story I can ever tell someone. Through it, may my neighbors see you. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

Start your day with quick daily devotions.

See God's love, power, presence, and purpose in your life every day!