Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Power of Story

"Tolkien, like C. S. Lewis, believed that through story the real world becomes a more magical place, full of meaning. We see its pattern and colour in a fresh way. The recovery of a true view of things applies both to individual things like hills and stones, and to the cosmic depths of space and time itself." ~ Colin Duriez; The J. R. R. Tolkien Handbook: A Concise Guide to His life, Writings, and World of Middle-Earth

The value of stories cannot be overlooked in our lives. Stories have the ability to help us see things clearly when the realities of life have blurred our vision. Stories can bypass our minds and find their mark in our hearts.

King David is an icon of faith. He is called a man after God's heart and is an ancestor of Jesus. Yet we know that David was far from perfect. He committed adultery and tried to cover his sin with murder. Here is a point that is often overlooked in this part of David's life. Uriah was a Hittite and one of David's thirty Mighty Men. He was loyal to David, and David stole his wife and had Uriah killed. Think about the treachery that David participated in an attempt to keep his name clean. When the deed was done David had no remorse.

A year passes, the baby conceived in the adulterous affair is born, and David continues with his life like nothing happened. Though I have begun to wonder if Bathsheba didn't begin to resent David for what he did. With Uriah she was the apple of his eye, loved cared for, and cherished and with David she became just another wife in his harem.

Then one day Nathan the Prophet shows up. "Hey, your Majesty," he says to King David. "I have this story to tell." David replies, "I would like to hear your story." Nathan tells the King a story about two men. One man is rich he has herds, flocks, and fields. The other man is poor and his family's one good possession was a little ewe lamb. One day the rich man has guests and the man sends his servants over to the poor man's house to take his one ewe lamb for the first.

David is angered by the story and says the rich man should not only be forced to pay the lamb, but he should be put to death as well. Nathan's reply is great, "You are that man." Through a story David was convicted of the sin he committed that laid aside for more than a year. For a year David went to the Temple, observed the Sabbath, and prayed but he never repented from his sin. He would not let truth enter his heart. Nathan's story entered the back door of David's heart and caught the King off guard. It was a story that got David seeing clearly again.

That is the power of story. Stories have the unique power to open us up to the spiritual realities of life. They can remind us of the joy of life, the romance that should exist between a husband and wife, the pleasures of friends and family, the beauty of God's creation, and the spiritual war that is continually fought all around us.

Ultimately the importance of story is seen it is ability to lead the reader, hearer, or watcher to the greatest Story of all. For both Tolkien and Lewis this Story was like all other fairy-tales and myths, but with one added feature: it was true. The Gospel is the story of God disguising himself as a man, living on earth, dying a cruel death, and being resurrected to new life. The greatest of all storytellers entered His creation in order to save it. When used correctly story has the power to lead people not only to the foot of the cross, but to an empty tomb and a Kingdom that is always increasing around the world.

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