Taking holiday pictures has never been as easy as it is today. But as a tour guide once commented about his tour members, “They have lots of pictures, but no stories.”
To be fair to the tour members, perhaps their photos do say something, such as “I have been there” or “See, I look nice, don’t I?”
But if these are the purposes, it does not matter if they take a selfie at the Niagara Falls or a group picture at the Eiffel Tower, the story would never really change.
Life events can be likened to holiday photos. We rush from one event to another, like rushing from the Eiffel Tower to the Champs-Élysées. Every one of them seems important. Perhaps they are—the question is: what story do they tell? Just to say, “I have been there”? or “I looked nice there, didn’t I?” Isn’t that everybody’s cliché?
Mitch Albom’s best-seller The Five People You Meet in Heaven is a fictional recounting of a man’s experience in heaven. There he meets five people whom he knew in his life and is shown events related to them. The images make him realise that life events are not random or isolated experiences but interconnected and forming meaningful stories.
A few years ago, I had a similar encounter myself (not in heaven but on earth—and I’m quite definite about this because I’m still here writing this story).
After preaching in a church, someone came up to me and asked: “Still remember me?” I said, “I’m sorry, have we met somewhere?”
He said: “I was one of the kids in your Sunday school class 35 years ago,” and he added, “Thank you for leading me to Christ.” 35 years ago! I had even forgotten that I was once a Sunday school teacher!
It was a little town known for being a hard soil for the gospel, so I didn’t expect any conversion. What surprised me was the little boy was now a godly Christian. Later that night he took me out for dinner and gave me a bigger surprise: his parents and siblings were there, and they had all come to the faith!
I just wonder, when we get to heaven, how many people will come up to us and tell us our earthly stories? And what stories will they tell?