Lake Wobegon, the Gospel, and Me

I had the privilege of seeing Garrison Keillor last night with my beautiful wife at the Mac. If you aren’t familiar with Garrison, he is the host of the award-winning radio show “A Prairie Home Companion” as well as an author and orchestra conductor. I’ve enjoyed the “News from Lake Wobegon” podcast on many occasions – it is my “happy place” as Keillor’s voice brings a sense of calm to the world.

Last night he spent two hours telling stories of life both in his fictional hometown of Lake Wobegon as well as autobiographical material from his own life in a way that made both of us pause and listen deeply. We enjoyed being distracted by the tone and warmth of the stories, because it took our minds off of the eyes that were on us as we took our seats.

We were a good 30 years younger than all but two other couples in the room. I suppose we are old souls.

In the midst of his storytelling, Keillor made an incredibly insightful statement (this is my paraphrase):

When you finally realize that people are capable of both incredible good and incredible evil, it opens a window in your mind that allows you to begin to think about storytelling.

Regardless of what you’ve been taught about the word evangelism, if you read the Bible what you recognize is that for the early Christians “evangelism=storytelling.”

Evangelism was the story of Jesus – not just that He died for the sins of the world, but that He also rose from the dead and will return – and how that vital fact wrecks and renovates the lives of real people.

Too often we are frightened of telling our stories to the powers of evil, to those we see as unreachable or resistant. Yet their very resistance and distance from God should open a window in our minds where we begin to catch a glimpse of how our story of moving from ruin towards reconciliation could be the catalyzing moment of faith for them.

No one is unreachable.

No one is completely resistant.

They simply have not yet heard your story.

Tell it. Tell it well and don’t omit the messy parts.

Then include the twist – the life, death, resurrection and return that brings all stories to life.

We speak the story of Jesus into the face of evil, knowing that our story is evidence that evil's days are numbered.