I am about to break the rules of blogging again…stay with me though. I hope you find it interesting.
I can see and hear a lot of things from my window. Today, I’m listening to sounds and smells coming from inside our apartment. The grandchildren are visiting, watching TV, playing games on the computer. Last night we spent some time reading and telling Bible stories and my wife heated up some cinnamon rolls that we had picked up from the Murphy’s. They smell almost as good as going over to the bakery. Mmm! The combination of grandchildren, bible stories and cinnamon rolls is mighty good!
It reminds me of a time when we first moved into the neighborhood. We were looking for ways to get involved in the neighborhood and to meet new people when we heard about the mission from the Murphy’s. I called the volunteer coordinator and asked what we could do. I have rarely heard such an enthusiastic response and such a long list of needs. After talking for some time we settled on doing a music and story time in the family shelter. I first tried it on a Tuesday evening and was I surprised! I had been doing that sort of thing in churches for years. Most of these children and families had never been to a church and had no clue about what to expect from me. I started with the music and since the children had never heard any of the songs that I was doing, it was really hard to get them to settle down. I was beginning to think that I was the wrong person for the job until I started to tell the story. I had selected a Bible story that had a bit of adventure in it and even though these children had never heard a Bible story before, but, they seemed to get locked into the story very quickly. You could have heard a pin drop in that room! I never would have believed it. But, then I recalled the reaction of my own children, grandchildren and Sunday school kids. They almost always react the same way and adults are not much different. People have always loved a good story.
Maybe that’s why God put so much of the Bible into story form. Actually, the whole Bible is one big story. It is the story of God’s love for his created children, us. Some people have called it the “Greatest Story Ever Told”. It is amazing in its depth and breadth. I read a piece on the internet by Craig von Buseck, a CBN.com Producer. In his article entitled “Did You Ever Wonder What The Bible Was All About?” he says that “The Bible is the story of Jesus”. I think that he is exactly right. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that the sign for Bible in American Sign Language is a combination of the sign for “Jesus” and the sign for “book”. From the beginning of Genesis to the end of Revelation is a story without equal. Everything that can be experienced by humankind is described. Every emotion and choice is there, whether good or bad. It would seem that every other book ever written owes a debt to it. Not so much, I suppose, in that is was not the first book ever written down, but that it has so much of who and what we are.
I suppose that this is why children of (all ages) are enraptured by stories from the Bible. They are ageless and classic and never lose their relevance to our daily lives. I will probably never forget that first time at the mission. Not only were the children quiet as the proverbial church mice, but their parents were as well. I told the story of Nehemiah and how he went back to Jerusalem to oversee the rebuilding of the wall. I have also told the stories of Esther and Zacchaeus and the Apostle Paul. The children who have never been to church are now learning some of the classical lessons from the Bible and getting to know it’s author from these stories. I think that is the primary object after all, to teach people about their creator and their saviour. They also serve to teach us how to love each other. That is something that is lacking in almost every area of our world these days. The task of continuing to tell Bible stories may seem like a small thing in some eyes, but, I think that it is a large thing in a world that sorely needs the wisdom and guidance supplied by these stories.
I don’t think that we will ever not need to be reminded to love our neighbor, that envy and jealousy can lead to violence (or even murder) or that prayer can sustain us in dark times. God has provided us with a wealth of stories in the Bible, each one focused on some particular need that we have. Sometimes we realize that need, sometimes we forget. There is a unique joy that I get in retelling the stories. You see, I need the same reminders that you do. We have that in common. It is part of our humanity. It is part of our lostness. It is part of how much we all need the same loving care from each other. But, mostly we need to be reminded of our need for our Saviour.
Much in the same way that we can all appreciate the marvelous smell of fresh or reheated cinnamon rolls, we can all appreciate sitting on the floor like a child being told fascinating stories of long ago and far away. Especially if those stories speak to us deep inside in ways that we didn’t know we needed. They are stories that remind us of a home that we seem to have forgotten about. Like Jesus said in Mat 19:14: “Let the children alone, don’t prevent them from coming to me. God’s kingdom is made up of people like these.” (The Message) Children also know good stuff when they run into it.