We will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. Psalm 78:4
My father-in-law was an infamous storyteller. You wouldn’t know it by his quiet public manner, but gathered around the dinner table with family or friends, his storytelling flowed for hours. He had great material from growing up in the rural south during the depression, serving in the U. S. Navy after Pearl Harbor, forty years of repairing failed factory production machines, fishing and hunting trips, retirement golf tournaments…well, you get the picture.
While most of his stories may not have intentionally imparted any moral lessons, they taught us more about history and the storyteller than he ever imagined. So many times we said, “We should really record his stories for future generations,” but we didn’t.
Storytelling is a wonderful teaching media. Whether spoken or written, it ignites our imagination and helps us connect-the-dots between the story and our personal life experiences. It’s exactly why Jesus taught God’s truths through parables.
Not all stories are parables, but admit it, everyone loves a good story. If this weren’t so, there would be no books, no movies, no theater. Have you noticed how our souls long for a captivating story with a hero, a villain, a battle, a rescue, and a happy ending that instills hope? Why? Because we desperately long to find ourselves in the story; to find someone who will rescue us from our own messes, restore our hearts and lives, and release us into our soul-purpose. We want to be rescued from the yuck, play a significant role in this life and serve a good purpose, right? Isn’t that God’s plan?
So, how do we know that we can be rescued, restored and released? By hearing and reading God’s story. If His plan for us had never been passed down from generation to generation through stories (testimonies) and teachings (the Bible), none of us would know the good news: the gospel that says Jesus has come that we might have abundant life; that we are beloved sons and daughters of the living God.
Nearing the end of my father-in-law’s life, his stories ceased. During his eulogy we recalled the same ol’ stories we’d heard a million times. Oh, how we wished we could hear him tell them a million times more.
I’m so thankful that God’s story was told, retold, and recorded so that thousands of years later, we might know Him.
This holiday season, as you gather to give thanks, listen carefully for familiar family stories – ones that teach of God’s goodness, faithfulness and provision. Or, start the storytelling tradition. Rather than just stating what you’re thankful for, why not tell the story that surrounds the blessing?