The Power of a Story
Lately my kids love to hear stories of my childhood. It’s not as if I had some sort of epic Hollywood-script kind of childhood by any means, but because they are real stories with a main character they happen to know on a deeply personal level, they love them. They simply can’t get enough of my stories—simple stories about growing up in a rural Virginia neighborhood where I had strategically mapped out all the secret locations like the “hollow tree” near the Hurst’s house and the sewer tunnels large enough to walk through—stories about the blizzard of 1993, the neighborhood bully who stole my billy club, and the buried nickels on my school’s baseball field that I cashed in for some Big League Chew at the concession stand.
Each of these simple stories forever etched in my memory have served as an entry-point into the hearts of my kids in a way I never could have anticipated. I am beginning to see firsthand how God has eternally etched His grand narrative on the hearts of His little image bearers. The fact that every little human heart is magnetically drawn to a good story bears witness to the universal Author who put that desire there.
With this recent passion to harness the power of storytelling, here are some things I am discovering. Perhaps they will encourage you to begin or continue the art of storytelling in your own home.
1. Stories foster better focus
We place a high value on having an intentional time of family devotions in our home, but sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get my kids to sit still and pay attention. As soon as I break into a story, however, their ears perk up and I slide in a biblical truth ninja-style, almost without them knowing.
2. Stories transition ordinary moments into eternal moments
By seizing opportunities to communicate truth to my children through personal stories in the natural rhythm of everyday life, normal conversation begins to make an eternal impact.
3. Stories help the grand narrative of Scripture make more sense
Whenever you can tell stories to your children that model the Creation—Fall—Redemption—Restoration motif of Scripture, it solidifies the eternal truth already written on their hearts. Every good Hollywood story follows this motif (i.e. A beautiful girl…gets captured by a dragon…the boy saves the girl…he wins her heart and they live happily ever after.) Hollywood did not make that up. It’s written in the very fabric of The Story that God wrote and is writing.
4. Stories about personal sin and failure provide hope and encouragement
I have been stunned by the amount of times I have described to my kids my own struggles with temptation and sin (discretionally, of course) and they stare back at me with a look of both disbelief and relief—disbelief that I would humble myself to their level, and relief in knowing that I am just as human as they are. Stories even the playing field.
5. Stories convey our humanity
There is absolutely no debating that God has given us a powerful medium of communication and teaching through the art of storytelling. Stories incite laughter. Stories inspire to greatness. Stories challenge the status quo. Stories tug on the heart and stir the emotions. Stories even change the world (John 21:25).
Psalm 78:4 – “We will not hide them from their children but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might and the wonders that he has done.”