This past summer, my family spent two weeks on the north shore of Lake Superior and it was great! I would highly recommend it. We visited a bunch of State Parks. We hiked miles and miles of trails. We saw lots of waterfalls and we even “cliff dived” (or more accurately “cliff jumped”) into the lake. None of that surprised me. After all, we went there because of the trees, the hills and the water. However, there was one aspect of our trip that I truly did not anticipate and that was hearing Gordon Lightfoot’s voice every five minutes!
Every store we went into, all up and down the coast, was playing “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald.” You know the song that starts, “The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down of the big lake they called 'Gitche Gumee.’” (If you still don’t know the song, “Google” it and you will likely say “Oh, I remember that song”).
The “Edmond Fitzgerald” was a freighter that carried taconite iron ore from mines near Duluth, Minnesota, to iron works in Detroit and Toledo. On November 10, 1975, the ship got caught in a fierce storm and sunk, killing all 29 men on board.
Now, the odd thing is that the “Edmond” was not the first ship to sink in Lake Superior. Hundreds of ships have gone down over the years. Neither was the wreck of the “Edmond” the worst disaster in terms of lives lost. However, it is the one sinking that everyone remembers. Every souvenir shop carries replicas of the “Edmond.” Why?
The song! Gordon Lightfoot’s song captured people’s attention and connected people to that event in a way that has not happened with any of the other wrecks. The result is that now, almost 40 years later, people still remember, talk about and write stories about the “Edmond Fitzgerald.”
My point: a story well told will connect.
As Christians, the stories that we have to share (both about our own faith and those regarding the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ) are the most hopeful, powerful, life-giving and eternity-changing stories ever. They should be anything but dry or boring.
I Peter 3:15 says, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
So, can you tell your story? If someone were to ask about your faith and what it means, could you tell them in a way that is clear, engaging and interesting?
If people are not listening, maybe the problem lies as much with the “tellers” as the “hearers”.
An important story, well told, always connects.