Do you know why Peter Pan would fly to the nursery window of the Darlings' house each night? It was to listen to the stories. In fact, this is why Peter brought Wendy to Neverland with him in the first place. He wanted to hear her stories. Wendy even spends some time on the Jolly Roger regaling Captain Hook and his pirate crew with her stories. The most dastardly of villains and the most impish of boys both softened by stories.
In the book A Little Princess Sara Crewe becomes the most popular girl in her boarding school. Not for the many lovely gifts her father sends her, but for the stories she tells. When Sara loses everything upon her father's death Sara copes with her loss and her poverty by spinning marvelous stories to believe in. Her stories give her hope and comfort.
Everyone favorite red-headed orphan, Anne Shirley, (did you really think I was going to say Annie, puh-lease) survived lonely days and lonelier nights with stories. A voracious appetite for reading and a verbosity only a lonely little girl can have made Anne a masterful story-teller. Anne could even imagine away her carrot red hair and her plain name.
And many of us have fallen in love with their stories. We all love a good story and lean in close to soak it in. Stories are our common language. Like music, stories cross cultural barriers and give us a common experience. Even the simplest stories tackle something of the human condition.
Hope, grace, redemption, faith, commitment, second-chances, true love, rescue...this is the stuff of good stories. From Cinderella to Les Miserables, from The Brothers Grimm to Charles Dickens, stories are full of emotions, fears, and desires we can relate to. This is why we love stories, we see something of ourselves. Or something we hope to be.
Our church recently started a series called 'The Story'. The concept of this series that there are two stories constantly taking place, the Upper Story and the Lower Story. The Upper Story is God's plan for all of creation, his utmost desire for us, the ultimate goal. The Lower Story consists of the individual narrative for each of us. We all play a part in God's plan, whether or not we acknowledge it or cooperate with him. Even in our rebellion, we are never out of his story. The Bible tells us, and I believe it to be true, that the best way of living is in tandem with God's plan, aligning my story with His story so that we're telling the same story.
This idea of 'The Story' is an appealing concept. After all, who doesn't love a good story? And maybe this is why God thought it was fitting to relate to us through stories. He knew that we could understand a story and that we'd come back to it time and again. His Word is full of stories, I believe true stories (yup, I'm one of those evangelical fundamentalist kooks, you caught me!). Stories of loss, worry, fear, and failure. Stories of hope, faith, adventures, and fulfillment. Every story lined with grace, redemption, and second-chances. No one falls too far, too hard, or for too long for God to save them. The only people who are truly lost are the ones who harden in the light. The Bible is full of the human condition. There isn't a single aspect of human life that isn't addressed in some way. Oppression, vengeance, retribution, forgiveness, liberation, loss, loneliness, hatred, exile, victory...
Who knows better the human condition
than the One who created us?
Emmanuel, God With Us.
Literature is full of heroes--Byronic heroes, tragic heroes, super heroes, ordinary heroes, unlikely heroes, even heroines. But only one Hero can really save us and only one Story really tells his tale.
We all love a really well-crafted and expertly told story. This is what drew Peter Pan to Wendy's window, gave Sara Crewe her friends, and allowed Anne Shirley to survive. It's what packs movie theatres, tunes DVRs for that "can't miss" show, and fills bookshelves. And it's what makes the Bible the number one bestseller of all time. Of all the stories in all the world, it's the one that rings most true (because it is) and brings the most hope. Its Author is our only hope.
"For I know the plans [the story] I have for you," says the Lord...--Jeremiah 29:11
Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith...Hebrews 12:2