Listening to and recounting stories is an important part of being human. We learn through stories better, we teach through stories better and we connect better through stories. We laugh, we cry and we feel when we’re engaged with stories. So why did we stop?
Most people don’t tell stories anymore. We’ve relegated that task to Hollywood. We used to sit around our older family members and listen to them recount funny and somber stories of years gone by. Now we fill our nursing homes with them and tune into reality shows and crime dramas.
We’ve been nearly irreparably harmed by this in church. We’ve stopped telling stories of what God has done for us and we’re content, just like watching television, to listen to stories about what God has done for someone else long ago.
When we’re detached from the stories we hear, they have less impact on us. Sermon illustrations pulled from Google have almost no lasting impact on people because they’re not real. There’s no connection between the pastor or the people to the story. They may make for a good illustration, but long term they don’t really accomplish much.
This is an important facet of the Christian life that we’re sorely missing these days. It’s not only good for us, but God commands us to tell the stories of what He’s done over and over in scripture.
Let’s look closely at the Deuteronomy 4:9 passage.
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
Notice that Moses didn’t tell them to read the Bible to their children. He didn’t tell them to read the stories, he commanded them to tell the stories.
We can only really tell stories we’re connected with. We have to be familiar with a story to retell it. It causes us to learn the story, to live the story and to own the story. When we feel a part of the story, it sticks with who we tell it to.
Of course the best way to do that is to have personal experience with the story ourselves. It’s much easier to tell of the mighty works God has done in our own lives than in others’ lives. That means we have to seek God for our own stories while we continue to remember the stories of others.
God’s reason for this command was so the people wouldn’t turn away from the Him. Isn’t that interesting? Why would the stories of what God had done be important for the people to not fall away?
It’s impossible to follow a God who doesn’t seem real. If God is nothing more than a compilation of someone else’s stories, how can we truly press into Him? How can we give our whole lives over to something that only exists in the vague recollections of someone else?
Of course we can’t. And that’s the point. To be able to grow in maturity as a Christian we must have a deep emotional and rational connection to God. That takes experience. That takes history. Our history turns into stories that encourage the next generation and those around us to seek God for themselves.
We can’t ever be content with knowing someone who once knew God. We must always press on to know God for ourselves and retell the stories of God’s faithfulness and greatness in our lives so others will be encouraged to press on as well.
I’m using this blog to tell my stories to encourage whomever will read. I pray my stories will cause you to want to press into God for yourself in a fresh way.
If you’re just landing on this site, go to A Diary of Dreams and Visions to read what I’m talking about. I know God because I’ve experienced His goodness, His kindness and I want to tell everyone I know about His great love. Will you do the same?
Take time today to share something the Lord has done for you in the comments.