“The disciples came up and asked, ‘Why do you tell stories?’
He replied, ‘You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:
But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance’.”
Matthew 13:10-17 (MSG)
We love to read stories as a child, but as we get older, we love to hear real life stories about hope, inspiration, and faith. We go to movies, because we want to get drawn into the story line and experience a compelling plot. In the midst of all the stories surrounding us, sometimes it can be easy to underestimate the power of the story we are living.
When Jesus was interacting with the people, it was as if He always had a story in His back pocket. The stories were usually in the form of a parable with an underlying message for the people to discover. And this confused the disciples. Why would Jesus not just come out and tell the people exactly what He was saying? You can imagine Peter, who was known for being outspoken, standing there scratching his head. Was Jesus hiding behind His stories? The opposite was actually occurring. As Jesus told stories, people became engaged in the conversation; they started thinking. If Jesus had been blatant about every message, the people would not have understood. Their minds and hearts were not ready to receive the new life that Jesus was offering. Jesus understood the power of a story to engage the heart and mind. There were people all around Him who were available to hear His message, but they weren’t ready. Through stories, Jesus took people by the hand and communicated something significant. He told stories, because He loves people and wants to draw them to Himself. In Mark 4:33-34 (MSG), it says, ” With many stories like these, he presented his message to them, fitting the stories to their experience and maturity. He was never without a story when he spoke. When he was alone with his disciples, he went over everything, sorting out the tangles, untying the knots.” Stories were a staple of Jesus’ ministry. But, telling stories can become a lost art. We get used to telling facts and figures, but we can forget that we are writing a story each and every day.
One of the most powerful stories that you will ever share is your story. But, many think they don’t have a story. We might think that we have to experience something awful to have a story to share. But, that is so far from the truth. If Jesus has ever reached down into your life and saved you from the sin that sentenced you to death, you have a story. But you might also be walking through the valley, and you can not even fathom how your situation could be used for good. Dear friend, your situation that might include an unexpected health nightmare, your child who has closed the door to a relationship with you, the career failure, or your loss of a loved one is part of your story. We might kick and scream inside, wanting a different story than we are living. But on the dark pages of your life, the light of Jesus has an opportunity to shine through. So, next time you see your neighbor who does not know Jesus, lay the theological argument aside and start with something closer to home. What is God teaching you through the life you are living right now? Why not share the story that God is writing in your life? Our story has the ability to connect people with Jesus if we aren’t afraid to share it. If Jesus has saved you, you have a story, and your story intertwined with HIStory has the power to change the world.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.