God’s secret staircase in your life

God’s secret staircase in your life

By Dr. Jim Miller

June 2022 (Tidings magazine) - George MacDonald, Scottish preacher and author of many books, including brilliant children’s stories, describes the mysterious ways God enters our lives through “His own secret staircase.” I wonder what secret stairways He’s employed in your life?

Over the course of the last year or so, members of the First Church staff have shared a bit of their stories in our weekly 8:45 a.m. Tuesday morning chapel service.

The assignment’s been simple … “Tell us of a few experiences when the Lord has shown up for you.” And we’ve heard a lot about God’s secret stairway into our lives.

I’ve worked with many of these staff members for years, but too often the stories they told were those I’d never heard before. To my mind, there’s nothing that’s shaped the culture of our staff more than these glimpses into our colleagues’ lives … simple stories, short personal vignettes, describing God’s ongoing redemptive work.

Hearing such stories provides high-octane encouragement.

This morning in Chapel, for example, George Wallace, one of our “Mighty Men of Maintenance,” shared something of his journey.

“I was living on the streets in Indianapolis,” he said, “… walking in blindness with a ‘veil’ over my eyes, caught in a battle between God’s purposes and Satan’s.”

George Wallace

And then, George described how the risen Christ stepped into his dangerous world and literally saved him.

“It was at night,” he said. “I was at the end of my rope, and Jesus said to me, ‘George, do you want to live your life like this?’ And he pointed to the darkness all around me, ‘or like this?’ And suddenly, everything changed. The streets became brightly lit, like daytime! ‘It’s your decision, George. What’s it going to be?’ So, I decided right then and there to follow Him,” he said, “and I remember saying, ‘But, Lord, don’t walk too fast!’”

George’s stories made us both laugh and think. They also made us thankful and glad.

My brother, Jonathan, spoke at 9:30 a.m. recently to a crowded Stephenson Hall on the theme, “Walking with Jesus and Cancer.” 

The first photo he put up on the screen was a picture of two people walking down a long path with this caption, “We’re all just walking each other home.”

“Indeed. And there’s so much good that can happen as we walk along with each other. We can tell our stories!”
– Dr. Jim Miller

As Frederick Buechner puts it in his book, “Telling Secrets,”

“My story is important not because it is mine … but because if I tell it anything like right, the chances are you will recognize that in many ways it is also your story. It is precisely through these stories that God makes himself known to each of us more powerfully and personally.”

So, take some time this summer and write up your story. Start with a summary, say 600 words. Try to articulate what you believe, how you came to believe it (that is, where God showed up), and what difference it’s made to you and others.

It will be an instant heirloom in your family. And it will be high-octane encouragement to those of us who are blessed to hear it.

Remember Luke 24 - two of Jesus’ disciples are on their way home to Emmaus after the crucifixion. Jesus joins them on the walk, but somehow, “They were kept from recognizing Him.”

Rather than interrupting their grief by simply showing himself alive, Jesus thinks it more important for them to talk, for them to articulate their stories. So, He asks what’s troubling them.

As they lament the events of the weekend, Jesus begins to expand their view of the stories they tell. He talks about Moses and the Prophets and how their stories are actually telling about Him.

By listening to stories of God’s mighty acts in the lives of those we know and love, we become confident that God is at work in our life, too.

An invitation:

How about joining the First Church staff for worship some Tuesday morning? We’d love to have you. Every Tuesday from 8:45 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., we gather in the Kerr Chapel. We sing hymns, read Scripture and tell our stories. I think you’ll hear your own story in the stories that are told.

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