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The Story That Shapes Us (Part 2)

The Story That Shapes Us (Part 2)

APRIL 19, 2022  |  10 MINUTE LISTEN

Listen on Spotify, Apple, and Google

Episode Overview

On this episode of The Approach, we pause our normal rhythms to pray over the stories that are shaping us and the next generation. On “The Story that Shapes Us (Part 2),” we’ll reflect on the story of the Israelites, distraction, and the freedom found in the story of Jesus, and how this can impact our lives and the lives of those we are walking with.

Read the Script

Welcome to The Approach. This is one of our prayer habit episodes where we pause our normal rhythm and pray over our topic for the month. My name is Connor Owen, and I am on staff at World Gospel Mission.

A few weeks ago, we talked about the two stories that the next generation is hearing. One story—and this is the dominant one—tells us to promote ourselves, look out for ourselves, to be an influencer. The story of Jesus, though, tells us and the next generation to die to self, and through dying to self, you find yourself. These are two very opposing stories. In part one of this episode, we dove into the reality that the dominant culture’s narrative leads to a life of distraction and hurry. This life leads to trying to do all the things and be all the things—so much so that we lose sight of what’s true and real.

I was reading in Exodus a few weeks ago about the Israelites’ time of captivity in Egypt. When Moses comes in, he’s professing words from the Lord. He tells the Israelites God wants to bring them out, to free them, to redeem them, to take them from Egypt, and that He will be their God. Pharaoh believed all of this to be false. So—he came up with a plan. He forced them to gather their own materials for their work, without reducing the quota they need to meet. In Exodus 5:9, He said, “Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies” (NIV).

The Israelites were in the same position we’re in. Good News came in from Moses, but culture kept them busy. Culture kept them so preoccupied that they had no room in their hearts for this reality that God was speaking over them. Then, in Exodus 5:21, they even looked at Moses and said, “You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” 

How often do I hear the story of Jesus and think that it’s not for me; it’s not for my circumstances; it can’t apply to my life? In fact, it could ruin things for me. I’m so busy trying to do everything that I miss that God wants to redeem me, He wants to free me, He wants to take me and be my God.

As we begin today, let’s start with a prayer from a verse many of us know from Psalm 46. What I’ll do is say a line and give you space to let those words wash over.

Be still,

And know that I am God!

How often do I take time to be still? To recognize who the great I Am is?  Or have I become so distracted that I have no time for this? I’m an early riser; usually around 5 am. How I start my day really shapes how my day will go. Somedays, I sleep in a little. On those days, I’m forced to get ready fast. I’m packing lunches for kids, I’m getting three little kids out of bed, dressed, fed, cleaned up, and out the door. By the time I sit down at my computer to start the workday, I’m already exhausted. But if I’ve taken time before all of that to be still and know who God is, I allow God to fill me with His story, with His truths, with His realities. Sometimes, though, I’m so busy getting everything ready, checking social media and seeing the success of other people that I, like the Israelites, am so busy making my bricks that I pay no attention to what is being said by God. I’m guessing you have similar days. What’s something you could do to create room to be still, and to know God wants to redeem you, to free you, and to be your God? Take a moment to let God speak to you about this.

The reason I’m talking about us and the stories shaping us is because we have to be sure the story shaping our lives is the story of Jesus before we can pour into the life of our Gen Zers. If we’re not being still before God, God can’t speak through us to our kids or students or mentees. When we sit in God’s love and let it wash over us, allowing it to be the dominant and shaping factor in our lives, His love will pour out through us to others. I think of Moses and his constant prayers for Pharaoh even after all the times Pharaoh deceived him. And I think of other holy people in my life who have realized how much God loves them, and in return they love Him and others with the same force. As you walk with Gen Z—your kids, students, youth group, your team—how can you begin to live out the story of Jesus for them? Ask God to guide you in that over the coming weeks.

This is a real battle for you and for me and for Generation Z. We have constant messages coming at us telling us to live our own truth, to be happy, telling us, “You do you.” These things look really attractive and easy. But it’s not the story we are called to live. It’s not what gives us freedom. We only find true freedom in the story of Jesus and by loving and worshipping Him.

As we wrap up our time, let these words sink into your heart. Pray these over your Gen Zer, use them in conversations with them. You can text it to them, you can leave a post-it note for them when they wake up in the morning. Remind them of this story that God invites them into.

From Isaiah 43.

This is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.

“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.

I, even I, am the Lord,
and apart from me there is no savior.
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God.”

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