When he had to confront King David, Nathan told a story. When Joshua urged Israel to choose whom they would serve, he told a story. When the Son of God wanted to reveal truth to His followers, He too told a story.
Throughout human history, stories have served people in important ways. Stories have been used to teach history, to connect people to their communities or tribes, and to reveal the visible work of the invisible God in His world, among other things. When Nathan chose to tell a story about an oppressive and greedy rich man killing a lamb, his purpose was simple: to confront David with the truth of his moral failure.
In our current era, we tend to relegate stories to a place of "entertaining fictions." Seeing stories through this lens, however, is far too limiting for those of us who believe in the unmatched creative powers of our God. Seeing stories only as entertainment limits their ability to speak truth about the world, relationships, and God. Let's take our cue from Nathan and embrace the powerful ways stories can work in our lives. As the Bible makes clear, stories have always been, and will continue to be, a great deal more than a pleasant way to pass the time.
They can communicate life-changing truths.
A plan in the heart of a man is like deep water,
but a man of understanding draws it out. (Proverbs 20:5)
Go for It
How many people stop because so few say "Go!"?
In his fine little book Fully Human, Fully Alive, author John Powell relates an experience which happened to a friend while he was vacationing in the Bahamas. The friend was sightseeing when he noticed a crowd gathered toward the end of a pier. He walked down to investigate the commotion. Powell says:
A Gift Too Wonderful for Words Long ago in a quiet, crude place where animals sleep, Mary gave birth and felt the soft, human skin of her firstborn. The humanity of this scene appropriately pulls us in for a closer look.
. . . he discovered that the object of all the attention was a young man making the last-minute preparations for a solo journey around the world in a homemade boat. Without exception everyone on the pier was pessimistic. All were actively volunteering to tell the ambitious sailor all the things that could possibly go wrong. "The sun will BROIL you!" "You won't have enough food." "That boat of yours won't withstand the waves in a storm." [And, of course, those familiar words] "You'll never make it."
When my friend heard all these discouraging warnings to the adventurous young man, he felt an irresistible desire to offer some optimism and encouragement. As the little craft began drifting away from the pier towards the horizon, my friend went to the end of the pier, waving both arms wildly like semaphores spelling confidence. He kept shouting: "BON VOYAGE! You're really something! We're with you. We're proud of you!"
God often gets blamed for things He didn’t do. But more times than not, He doesn’t get credit for the things He does accomplish. So much of what God does in our lives is not carried out with fanfare—blowing trumpets and exploding fireworks—but in subtle, unheralded ways. But how do we hear that small, still voice within us? How can we be sure it’s God’s Spirit speaking to us?All Sermons by Chuck Swindoll