It’s special when God uses others to encourage us along His journey for our lives, isn’t it? When I think about using our stories to help bring others into God’s story for their lives, my mind goes to Elizabeth and Mary in the book of Luke. Elizabeth was barren, and she and her husband were old in age. One day, an angel named Gabriel came to her husband and told him that Elizabeth would bear a son named John who would lead many people to Jesus and make way for Him. Her husband doubted Gabriel, and because of this, Gabriel made him unable to speak until the baby was born. Elizabeth did conceive, despite the factors against her, and she kept herself hidden for 5 months.
Around this time, the same angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she would bear a son, even though she was a virgin. He told her that her son, Jesus, would be called Son of the Most High and that his kingdom would have no end. Additionally, and here is the special part, Gabriel explained to Mary that her relative Elizabeth had just conceived John, even though she was barren. Mary humbly accepted Gabriel’s message and God’s special calling on her life, and then she went to visit her relative Elizabeth.
Reading further into Luke, the Bible says that when Elizabeth and Mary greeted each other, baby John leaped inside Elizabeth’s womb. It’s such a beautiful moment in and of itself because John was impacted by Jesus’ presence right then and there. Something that I really want us to grasp, however, is how special it was for Mary and Elizabeth to share time together throughout this important journey of realizing and stepping into their stories. Although I clearly wasn’t there during Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, I imagine there were a lot of heartfelt and encouraging exchanges between the two of them. Although Mary was carrying Jesus, whom no one could come close in comparison to, both she and Elizabeth had something in common, in a way – they were carrying babies that would change the world. They used that to their advantage and walked with each other into God’s story for their lives.
I feel we also should come alongside others who are going through something we’ve either gone through or are currently going through and say, “me too”. Mary and Elizabeth each had their own story, but they came together in a way that teaches us what it should be like to use our own story to help someone else step into God’s story for them. Imagine if they had kept their conceptions a secret from one another (pretending for a moment that Gabriel did not reveal Elizabeth’s baby news to Mary). How lonely that could have been for both of those sweet women who had such important callings on their lives, with no one around them to really relate to.
We all have something special inside of us. Whether it be a calling, a beautiful redemption story, a collection of life lessons or even a dream, we have something special – we have a story. That story is not meant to be bottled up inside, but rather it is meant to be shared. When we share our stories with those around us, we ultimately help them step into God’s story for their lives. There are people in this world who desperately need help – they need some sense of guidance, encouragement or inspiration. They need someone to come alongside them and say “me too”, and then direct them into the steady arms of Jesus. He is the only one that can supply them with the strength they need to carry out His call on their lives, but we most certainly play a part in their well-being.
We are called to be in community and to build each other up with love. I believe one of the best ways to do that is to use our stories to encourage others to walk through theirs. It can be done simply by just sharing our hearts with others – taking them through our ups and downs but also showing them that God always was, is and will be faithful. We can listen as they share their hopes, dreams, fears and failures with us and then encourage them by sharing what God has done in our own lives. It’s so important that we don’t keep everything we’ve walked through to ourselves because there are so many sweet friends out there who need to hear it, learn from it and be inspired by it.
Today, go back through your mind and try to remember pivotal moments in your life when you feel God really taught you something or showed Himself faithful. Try to keep those moments fresh in your mind, ready to hand off to someone like a baton of encouragement when needed. Most importantly, look for opportunities of community with others who seem to be walking through something you have walked through or are currently walking through. Mary and Elizabeth are beautiful examples of what it looks like to take someone by the hand and share life together – to encourage trusting in God while each walking through their own story. We don’t need to walk through life alone. One by one, as we each come together and offer encouragement and relatability, we help direct each other to the One who wants to strengthen us and equip us for His call. I can’t help but think that the more we do that, the more we will see people stepping into their God-given stories – and that could change the world.