My dad would always take me to Shady Lakes, an amateur’s playground if you will- enclosed ponds to fish in, but still for a 5-year-old, the world was my pond. One summer my dad managed to convince my mom to come with us, a whole family outing, but we had no idea what was in store for us that day. We set up at a small quiet pond to fish and I found a huge tree branch that was turned into a bench to sit on. It was formidable in size and I could climb all over it. However, the best place to sit was right at the end, it was low to the ground and my feet could stay planted there.
We fished at this pond for a while, laughed together and enjoyed the sunshine. After a while, my dad realized that the fish just were not biting so we moved ponds. We spent an hour away from the big tree stump and then finally we came back! I was overjoyed! So of course, as my parents are talking to another fisherman I found my place at the end of the branch and plopped myself down. My mom looked and smiled, what a good kid, looked away… Then she heard it, only seconds later, my blood curdling scream. I was covered in ants; head to toe, nothing to be seen but little black ants swarming me. My mother moved with superhuman speed, grabbed me off the log, stripped off my clothes and made sure to brush off all the ants. She checked for bites, none, disaster averted, but the day was over. I was a wreck and crying so we packed up and headed home. That day will live in infamy, they day of engulfment.
Funny story, right? Would you believe me if I said it was true? It is! This happened to me when I was five years old. You might be wondering why the ants swarmed me. Another little girl had ice cream and sat in the same place a few minutes before, so naturally they swarmed when I sat down.
This sermon series, Go Fish!, got me thinking. Fishermen used to tell outrageous stories to pass the time, most of which were made up. However, in our lives we have some pretty outrageous stories that are true. I’m sure you can come up with a few true tall tales, right? Me too. What I am most thankful for is the most outrageous story I know. The one that keeps me going when all else fails. The story of a man who lived a perfect life, who willingly died a death he didn’t deserve just to pay the ransom for someone he had never met. Not only that, but also to raise from the grave defeating death and hell in the process. Truth or tall tale? I say truth. This is the story that gives hope to the masses, healing to the broken, sight to the blind and directions to the lost; it is worth sharing. You were created exactly the way you are, think exactly the way you do, and speak exactly how you speak for a purpose. Make the gospel your own. Internalize it so that when you are investing in people or inviting them to know Jesus it comes out as part of the conversation, not a speech or production. So, my challenge to you is to find a way to tell this incredible story in your own words and your own way. God has given you the tools and placed you in a community to accomplish something and I pray for boldness to do exactly that.