Faith Stories hits the road

Naomi Reed farewells Eternity and gets set for new adventures

It’s been a wonderful four years, for me, gathering 300 Faith Stories for Eternity News. Thank you for travelling along with me and listening to each person as they described their journey to faith in the Lord Jesus.

I continue to be amazed, daily, by the way that God works, in every place, drawing us to himself, in Christ, even amidst pain and struggle, questions and weariness – perhaps especially then.

At the end of 2023, I paused in my frantic gathering of faith stories and I spent time writing a new book titled Every Moment, Everywhere … Australian Faith Stories to Fill Up Your Soul. The book includes 63 of the faith stories, as well as lots of reflections between each one. It has been such a treat for me to write this. For anyone who would like more information about the book, here’s the link to sign up for updates. The book will be published by Acorn Press and is due out in July this year.

After submitting the book manuscript, Darren and I have been spending time travelling, visiting smaller, rural churches in Australia, meeting faithful believers and sharing faith stories, and gathering new faith stories over cups of tea. We’ve loved it.

It’s also been heart-wrenching at times. More than anything, it has reminded me that we’re all struggling, in different ways. Our stories, collectively, include impossible questions and sadness and trauma and the harsh winds of grief. In different ways, we’re all unravelling, both individually and as a society.

Naomi Reed, author of Faith Stories

Naomi Reed

But the unravelling has been interesting to me. As each person has been sharing their stories of unravelling and faith with me, they have also admitted that it’s been in the unravelling, that they have seen God at work. Of the 300 people I interviewed for Faith Stories, 65 per cent of them described a correlation between their inner or outer unravelling and their openness to the lordship of Jesus Christ. The percentage was higher (87 per cent) for those who came to faith in Jesus as adults.

In some ways, it seems obvious. The gospel message is that we are all in need. We are sinners in need of a Saviour. We are out of relationship with God and we can’t fix ourselves. We are hurting and confused … and as we come to God, admitting our need, we are amazed that Jesus has paid for our sins and carried our burdens, for all time and for today. Out of our smallness, we respond to God in repentance, faith and quiet thanksgiving. And then the Holy Spirit works in us, over very long periods. We continue to stumble and fall and groan, but the Spirit is not finished with us yet. Every day, God offers us sweet grace.

Often, when I hear stories of people in pain, I groan with them. I sometimes feel that I’d like to absorb some of their pain into my own cells for a while – to give them a break or to carry it for them, if I could. Of course, the feeling is strongest and most profound when I’m with my own loved ones in pain – my closest family members, who I love more than life itself.

And then I remember that this, too, is the gospel message. That’s how much God loved us, and yet unimaginably more.

We continue to stumble and fall and groan, but the Spirit is not finished with us yet. Every day, God offers us sweet grace.

God, hearing and knowing the deepest cries of our heart, chose to bear the curse himself. On the cross, Jesus carried our pain and burdens and sin. Jesus absorbed our suffering and pain into his own cells. He breathed his last breath for us. And on that Good Friday, when the sun disappeared and the curtain ripped in two and the earth shook, the story wasn’t over. Jesus carried our pain and he dealt with it, for all time. He bore our suffering, the consequences we deserved. That’s how much God loved us.

Perhaps this Easter we will say thank you, again, in fresh ways, even as we groan and unravel. Perhaps this Easter we will be on our knees again, in wonder, at the outrageous love of God for the world.

Looking ahead, Darren and I hope to keep travelling and collecting faith stories, further afield, around Australia. We hope to keep sharing in small, rural churches. We have bought a cute, second-hand van, which is cosy and warm, and seems to trundle along behind us quite happily. If you would like to follow us as we visit small rural churches, please go to My Seventh Monsoon on Facebook.

For those of you who would love to keep reading the new Faith Stories, please stay tuned by registering your interest here.

Finally, thank you to the faithful team at Eternity News. It’s been such a treat to work with you! May the days ahead point us even more profoundly to the goodness of God, in Christ.