Telling True Stories

February 2, 2009

in Everyday Traditions,Family,Personal Disciplines

I have many memories of going to the beach with my family through my growing up years.  But one memory stands out among others.  We were out playing in the hot sun, running through the waves.  My dad stopped for a second and picked up a handful of sand.  He leaned down next to me and said, ‘Do you see how many grains of sand there are in my hand?’  Of course I couldn’t even begin to count them.  Then he went on to tell me about God’s promise to Abraham-to give him as many children as there were grains of sand.  I think about that story often when I return to any beach and wonder at that promise.  Being able to hold and see the sand in my hands makes the story about Abraham come alive.  But, I’m not sure the connection would be there had my father not taken a few moments amidst the play to tell me.

I just returned home from celebrating the end of my grandmother’s (my father’s mother) life here on earth.  So, I’ve been reflecting recently on the power of family and the influence that we each hold over the generations after us.  There’s much to say on this topic, but for now, I’d like to focus on the power of telling true stories to one another-to family members, to friends, and even to ourselves.

After seeing the fruit of grandmother and grandfather’s lives, I’m encouraged to recommit myself to doing all that I can in this short life.  And one way I hope to do that is to often think and talk about Jesus and the true stories of Scripture. I want to do as my dad did with me that day on the beach.  I want to stop often in my everyday, see things around me, and then talk together with whomever about God’s truth in relation to these everyday things.

Here are a few everyday scenarios that have come to mind recently:

  • Drinking a glass of water.  Recalling how Jesus turned water, just like this (except probably less drinkable) and turned it into aged fine wine, in an instant.  I want to talk to friends about how amazing that must have been-to make something instantly that otherwise takes years to produce. And then I want to talk about how Jesus can do that in our lives-give maturity and wisdom in certain circumstances that is far beyond our reach.
  • Searching for a lost item like keys or a credit card.  Once I find the item, or even in the midst of the fearful search, I want to talk about the parables of the Lost Coin or the Lost SheepI want to take all my anxiety and desire to find that one lost thing and use it to help me (and others) realize-even if just a little bit-how desperate God is to find and redeem us as His children.
  • Nursing my infant.  In those desperate moments when my child believes he’ll just die if he can’t eat immediately, I want to whisper stories to him about Jesus who humbled Himself to become a baby too.  I want to take the physical reality I have before me and realize (and talk) about the vulnerability Jesus entered into.

If you think about it, the possibilities are endless.  Even with these three examples, I can think of many other stories that would connect to the same things.  When looking at water, you could tell the stories of the Israelites searching for drinkable water and Moses’ striking the rock.  When searching, you could recount God’s asking Adam, ‘Where are you?’ A vulnerable baby can remind us of Moses floating in the reeds of the Nile River (can you imagine?) or even the Psalm that compares our contentment with the Lord to that of a weaned infant in their mother’s arms.

And there are innumerable everyday events that can and should turn us to God’s true stories-

Rainbows, a beggar, deer, bread, sickness, sheep, snow, someone knocking on the door

Just thinking of all the true stories we could tell to one another in the midst of our days makes me excited to see what will happen today that will bring Scripture to mind. Nevertheless, there are many days that pass when God’s true stories from Scripture never cross my mind.  So, I don’t think this way of thinking comes naturally.

  1. I need God’s abiding presence.  Of course, without the Holy Spirit to bring these things to mind, I’m hopeless.  I’ll be so focused on finding those car keys that I’ll let the teachable moment slip.
  2. I’ve got to read Scripture if I want to be thinking and talking about stories from Scripture. The only way these truths will come to mind is if I’ve been exposing myself to them regularly.
  3. I need to enjoy the company of others and be intentional in my conversation.  Though I can tell these stories to myself, and there would be some merit in that– the power of telling true stories is really found in sharing them.

These days are passing all too quickly.  As much as possible, I want to live this life with few regrets.  And one way to do that is to spend these days thinking and talking about God’s truth.  My life is so everyday, but God’s truth is bound up in these everyday things. I’m eager to tell true stories each day so that hopefully one day, those that follow me will see grains of sand and think of God’s miraculous promise to fill the earth through one old man.  I want the aftertaste of my life to create a thirst for more of God’s truth in Jesus.

Can you think of everyday things that remind us of God’s true stories?  I’d love to hear your ideas.

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1 lisa February 12, 2009 at 3:23 am

i just wanted you to know how much i am enjoying these posts. so much good stuff…i can hardly keep up! i’d prefer to have you over for a cup of coffee, but this will do for now:) i esp. like this thought and appreciate some ideas of how we can bring God’s Story into the day-to-day. i recall having a conversation with you once about how we need to learn to see stories from the Bible as a part of our own family history. thanks for the encouragement to be more proactive. love you!

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