Are you a storyteller?
I know many people are terrified of sharing any words in public. The old joke from Jerry Seinfeld about people preferring to be in the casket at the funeral rather than giving the eulogy remains true.
But, each of us have stories we’ve experienced that God has given us to tell. My friend Mulenga has told thousands of people about how he was wrongfully imprisoned in Central Africa for two years while caring for the man whose lies landed him in prison. My wife shares the story of having surgery on Good Friday, in order to save her pregnancy with our twins. Her time of waiting between Friday and Sunday transformed the way she approaches Easter Sunday and the resurrection of Jesus.
In the Scriptures, one of the most incredible stories takes place in Mark 5. A man had lived in the area in the Gerasenes for many years, but his possession by an evil spirit had isolated him. He made his homes in the caves, cutting himself with sharp stones while wearing little to no clothing.
When Jesus arrived in that place, the demons inside the man responded with fear and Jesus cast them out of the man into a group of 2,000 pigs. Those pigs then ran into a nearby lake and drowned. Like I said above, this story is wild.
When the people in the area who had tried to restrain him with chains and shackles arrived to investigate what they’d heard from those who tended the pigs, they were shocked to find this wild man quietly sitting down, fully clothed and in his right mind. They begged Jesus to leave, but Jesus commanded the transformed man to stay.
“‘No, go home to your family, and tell them everything the Lord has done for you and how merciful he has been.’ So the man started off to visit the Ten Towns of that region and began to proclaim the great things Jesus had done for him; and everyone was amazed at what he told them.”
This man’s story is the embodiment of our calling as followers of Jesus. Themes from this song are echoed in Cody Carnes’ song “BE GLAD.”
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Late in the song, Carnes sings words of testimony.
“I'll live, I'll live, to tell what the Lord has done
I'll live to sing of my Savior's love
I'll live because He is risen”
Carnes commented in a press release about the story behind the song.
“‘BE GLAD’ is a song straight from Scripture and full of joy and praise…There can be a lot of reasons to choose anything other than gladness. It’s easy to find a reason to be sad, angry, frustrated or hopeless. But the Bible says we have a reason to be glad today. Jesus has saved us and redeemed us. His mercies were brand new when you woke up this morning. So, put on some gladness and worship the Lord today! I hope this song helps you do that.”
In addition to echoing the themes of Mark 5, Carnes draws on many psalms. For instance, he quotes Psalm 100, which reads, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” He quotes Psalm 118 where we are told, “This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” He pulls from the reminder in Psalm 107:1 - “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”
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There is a real tension here which I’m grateful that Carnes acknowledges. In our lives, there are reasons to be frustrated and choosing to rejoice is often the last option we want to embrace. As Carnes indicates, the easier path is to camp out in emotions like sadness, anger, and hopelessness.
However, “BE GLAD” draws on Scripture to remind us of the reasons we have to choose the more difficult path. This path doesn’t bypass the emotions we genuinely feel, but rather it invites us to consider the work of God in our lives and tell those stories to encourage our hearts and be used by God in the lives of others. Like the transformed man in Mark 5, we have been sent into the lives of people we encounter where we live, work, study and play. We’ve been placed into those relationships by God on purpose and for an eternal purpose.
Our testimony of experiencing the power of God transforming us and sustaining us offers us a reason to rejoice today. While it might not be Thanksgiving season, and we might not feel grateful or glad, we are able to give thanks and praise to the Lord.
So whether it’s easy or difficult to access gladness today, turn on “BE GLAD” and open one of the Psalms mentioned in this devotional. Consider what God has done for you and rejoice in it!
Scott Savage is a pastor and a writer with the best last name in the world. Scott’s writing helps you laugh, challenges you to think, and invites you to grow. He leads Cornerstone Church in Prescott, Arizona, and watches lots of football with his wife and three kids. You can learn more about Scott’s new free resource, The Gratitude Muscle Challenge, at scottsavagelive.com.