I studied English at college. My idea of a perfect Friday night involves a fireplace, a blanket, a cat, a mug of tea and a book. I work in publishing. Any idea whom my favorite teacher in high school was?
My algebra teacher.
This teacher had some crazy experiences in college, and he’d tell us about them on the aptly named Story Day, usually a Friday afternoon or the day after an exam. I can’t remember what he taught us about linear equations, but I can remember a story he told about getting hit by a firecracker.
He was a gripping storyteller. We’d shuffle into the classroom expecting to find x, and instead we’d find him ready with one we hadn’t heard before, one that would have us talking through lunch and into the next day.
The concept of “story” is one of God’s greatest ideas. How easily a story slips into our memories as if they were roughly the same shape, like a Cinderella shoe. God himself is the Master Storyteller, weaving plot and conflict throughout the ages, we ourselves characters, on tiptoe for the resolution not far off. We respond to stories in a way that we don’t respond to advice or information, and they allow us to learn from other people’s experiences without having to go through it ourselves.
Stories are disarming; they sneak past our defenses. The prophet Nathan used a story to confront King David about his sin with Bathsheba. Although Jesus brought the Jewish scriptures into his teaching (he often said, “It is written…”), he also used stories as a way to bring truth to people who may not have understood or responded well to Old Testament law.
Stories in the form of testimonies are powerful tools in the Christian’s hands. They help us fight off doubt and despair and Satan’s lies – we can look back on an instance where God clearly displayed his faithfulness. They can bring us into worship, as they point to the beauty of God’s presence, the goodness of His character, the nature of His love. Whether it’s our personal testimony or someone else’s account of how God stepped into their lives, these stories give us something to hold on to, especially when heaven’s door seems shut.
We live in a society where it’s seen as arrogant to declare absolute truths. Still, we can often show these truths about God through story, as it’s hard for our subjective society to argue against personal experience. Like the blind man whom Jesus healed said to those who questioned him, “One thing I do know – I was blind and now I see.” (See John 9:25)
You have a story. And it matters. Every part of it – the characters, the conflict – is being used by God to draw you and others to Himself, the main character.