From the Hills: Telling Our Stories 

By Sylvia Peterson
Posted 11/21/22

When I woke up this morning I decided to quit writing these once a week. I have over 700 in my computer’s memory. I’ve written on my way to knee surgery (twice), on vacations, when I was …

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From the Hills: Telling Our Stories 


When I woke up this morning I decided to quit writing these once a week. I have over 700 in my computer’s memory. I’ve written on my way to knee surgery (twice), on vacations, when I was sick, and when I wasn’t, when I was in the mood, and when I definitely was not. 

They’ve made me a better writer. They’ve given me a platform to state my opinions and share the concerns of my heart. I don’t regret a single week, not a single word. However, before I was even out of bed today, I gave myself permission to stop. 

Then I listened to today’s Lectio365, which was about telling stories.

Huge crowds had followed Jesus to the Sea of Galilee. As they pressed in from every side, he left them on the shore and climbed into a small boat from which he could be better heard. 

Matthew 13:31-33 quotes him as saying this: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that a man took and sowed in his field. It’s the smallest of all the seeds, but when grown, it’s taller than vegetables and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the sky come and nest in its branches.”

Jesus did not intend to teach botany here, but to make a powerful point about the kingdom of God. The mustard seed was the smallest of any plant cultivated in first-century Palestine, and was proverbial for minuteness. Though not technically a tree, it can grow to a height from six to 10 feet, robust enough to support birds. 

Jesus was probably making a theological point that his listeners would catch, alluding to the eventual world domination of God’s kingdom. It would grow much bigger than anyone would expect when planting its tiny seeds.  

All Jesus did that day was tell stories — a long afternoon of storytelling. He fulfilled the prophecy of Asaph who wrote, “I will open my mouth and tell stories; I will bring out into the open things hidden since the world’s first day.” 

According to this morning’s Lectio, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, is quoted as saying this: “The most powerful person in the world is the storyteller (because) the storyteller sets the vision, values, and agenda of an entire generation that is to come.”

No one was or ever will be a more gifted storyteller than Jesus. He taught complex truths in simple, memorable parables that revealed God in a new and personal way. 

Maya Angelou was an American poet and a civil rights activist. She published three books of essays, several books of poetry, and is credited with a long list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning over 50 years. She said, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” 

Stories matter.

Too many people appear disinterested in Jesus today. Even the ones who claim to be Christ-followers, don’t seem to care about listening to him tell the stories that reveal truth each day.  

You and I and the church need to tell a better, more compelling story with our words and our lives. We need to encourage each other in a united goal — to raise up thousands of new voices — not just Christian writers and pastors, but also secular novelists, filmmakers, journalists, influencers, songwriters and politicians. 

We need to have the courage to tell our personal redemption stories in such a persuasive way that there can be no question about how we were saved, and who did the saving.

According to a Hopi American Indian proverb, “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”  


Sylvia Peterson is former co-pastor for Bald Hill Community Church and the author of “The Red Door: Where Hurt and Holiness Collide,” which can be purchased at Amazon or Barnes & Noble. She and her husband are chaplains for the Bald Hills Fire Department. You can email her at


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