Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So tell me a story!

Deep down inside of each of us is a craving to basic that we often fail to recognize its existence. A need so basic that we gratify without a second thought as to why we need or what we need. We fulfill this need in our children almost through instinct and yet it is considered a basic trait of a good parent. We have turned the fulfillment of this need into a billion dollar industry, and stores across the globe cater to it. Grand halls have been erected to service this need, products in all forms have been created in its honor, we have developed easily transported means to feed this desire, and yet, most of still fail to identify it as need. At best it is an indulgence or entertainment, but hardly ever deemed a necessity.

The need is simple, tell me a story. I need to hear, to see, to experience a time and place that I never inhabited. I need the chance to be a part of something greater, grander, or even more terrifying than the life I live. Tell me a story, be it a fairy tale, a romance, a thriller, or just how you took out the garbage this morning. Tell me a story, your story, another’s story, or one simply imagined.

There is power in a story. The power to influence my perspective, the power to teach, the power to inspire, and the power to destroy. A power so great that lives can be changed, nations moved, and eternity envisioned. Maybe this is the reason that God chose to reveal Himself first in a story. His first words to humanity are not rules, but a narrative of how He desired to create the beings He loved. He tells us of the men who served and failed Him and His unrelenting desire to redeem. And only after He tells us the stories of the first people to know Him does He take us deeper.

God knew that we would learn more from the stories than we would if confronted with rules alone. He understood that we would see the sins of Adam and Eve and know the brokenness of relationship to Him. He knew that if we could see the Ark floating upon the waters we have some idea of His greatness. He showed us how the devotion and heart break of Abraham could inspire us to faith more effectively than a mere command. In Moses, we experience his mother’s agony and grief only to be surprised by God’s grace and protection. In their stories we begin to know the God who is at once holy and loving in a way that only a story can convey.

Today we think of stories as something that belongs in other books, as if the pages of the Bible are too sacred to be read as a thrilling tale, but that is exactly what it is the most thrilling tale of how the creator of the universe chose to be a part of the lives of everyday, flawed people. And it is a story we long for, the one we want to be a part of.

We have tried telling it countless ways. We may replace the names of Scripture with Aragorn or Rooster Cogburn, but it is the same story over and over again. It is the story of people, or single person, who needs a hero. It is the princess in the tower who cries out to heaven praying that someone will come and rescue her from the dragon. It is Tyler Durden trying to make sense of the senseless, and Rigeletto playing the fool while hiding his treasure. No story we tell exists apart from our need to know THE story.

We search out the next big movie, and allow ourselves to know the story for an hour or so. We read a book, and get lost in the flow of words. We listen to the latest gossip, because even a dubious story is better than no story at all. Something inside of us tells us we need the story, so we seek it out, immersing ourselves in stories of all types because we don’t forget the story we are looking for is the one He wrote for us.

And unfortunately, we as a society and culture have forgotten the ability of a story to teach.We began to believe that stories are meant for entertainment. We think of them as amusement, and fail to grasp the significance of this great event. Our ancestors knew different, don’t believe me? Read the original fairy tales, before they were Disneyfied to make the audience feel good and were used to scare children into good choices. Or consider the fables which taught a moral.

Think for a moment of the parables Jesus used to teach, and how His stories reveal to us a Savior’s heart. He knew the value of a story and lived one so that we might know Him better. And He told us that our stories have power and that through our stories the world could come to know Him. So being good Christians we fancied it up a bit, not believing it could be that simple, not having faith in His words or example, we throw around phrases like “sharing our testimony” and lost sight of the fact that our testimony is nothing more than our story. That means that the enemy is overcome through our story, yours, mine, and all who have come before living a life of faith and struggle.

So tell me a story. One that is true but still has room for magic. One where there is still a man on a white horse, wielding a sword, coming to defeat evil. Tell me a story about how God was there in your life, how you came to know Him, and how He has demonstrated His love. Tell me a story that inspires me to keep pursuing Him, and tell me a story where love does conquer all. Tell me your story. I need to hear it because I need to hear His.

No comments: