Father, write yourself upon my heart and life – that I may be an open book about you, so that others might read of your unending love on every page. -Jim Branch
The best kind of stories are those that proclaim truth and exhibit beauty. They are even better if this is done inadvertently, free of manipulation and artificial realties. Suddenly you reach the end of the story and realize that it was exposing you to profound insights and glorious inspiration without you even realizing it.
I’ve been on a children’s literature kick this past month. Partly because I’ve needed something that requires little brain power, that I can read in the middle of power ranger episodes, busy classrooms, and loud bus rides. But also because my heart appreciates the simple honesty that these stories offer. In them I find real life. Authentic journeys. Unadorned beauty. In the adventures of squirrels, second graders, and toy rabbits my heart comes alive. I understand life better.
I think we often connect to stories better than we connect to other means of messages. Sometimes the truth is made clearer if conveyed via narrative. Sometimes beauty resonates deeper if done so through the tales of others.
Our lives are stories. Whether we recognize it or not, we are each writing out a story – complex and significant – through the living of our lives. With every day we add a chapter, a page, or a sentence, to an ongoing story. Some may be dramatic, wrought with agonies and tragedies. Others tend toward the simple – just an ordinary tale of a pilgrim sojourning through daily life. Most are a compelling mix between the two – adventures one day, normality the next, and hardship mixed with joy lining the pages in between. But all are stories. No matter what paths are walked. No matter what tales are told.
Psalm 107 tells a collection of stories. Stories of wanderers, of prisoners, of rebels, of fools. Stories of those who suffered, but who were relieved. Stories of those who disobeyed but were forgiven. Stories of those who wanted and were provided for. Stories of those who were oppressed but were rescued. And throughout each story the presiding theme is the lavish love and extreme graciousness of the Lord.
Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever…Let them give thanks to the Lord for His unfailing love and His wonderful deeds for men…Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the Lord.
These words are spoken in encouragement to one another. Remember this part of my story? Remember when I totally messed up but God was still there? Remember when I was thrown into the hardest of circumstances and through it was molded into who I am today? Remember how our lives are really just stories of God’s gracious love and unending faithfulness?
Stories are meant to be shared with one another. They are to be told as reminders, as encouragement, as exhortation. Our lives and hearts are at their fullest when they are exposed. We understand one another better, we understand ourselves better, we understand God better when we are telling stories.
So grab a pen. Take up a novel. Order coffee for two. And let’s share stories. Stories of our journeys and our God who joined us on them. Tell your story. Let it be one that proclaims the works of God. Let His faithfulness be praised, His grace emphasized, His love be known. May God show up in all the pages. May those who journey with us recognize our author. May each tale hold unique truth and powerful beauty. And when we reach the end may my refrain be this: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. His love endures forever.