I've started a new writing project. It's a bit ambitious, but here's the gist of it. My goal is to take God's Story (in the Bible) and show how my own life story and the life story of others is woven together. Here's the beginning point...
God's story starts out with a simple statement, "In the beginning, God…." God exists and all life as we know it began when He spoke it into existence.
Many people have a hard time swallowing this as true, and see the Bible as a book of fables and folk tales. The reason it's hard to see it differently is because we have lost connection with God, and lost touch with our own human history.
The power of story
More progressive cultures have difficulty believing in God than cultures in less developed regions of the world. While it's easy to dismiss the Bible and God as just a story, stories engage people and are popular today.
What may seem as a trend or fad in western culture (an interest in story) has never been lost in other cultures throughout time. In most cultures, stories take center stage. People gather to hear stories, stop what they're doing to listen to stories, and look for opportunities to tell their own story.
The power of story invaded my own life unexpectedly. As a cross-cultural missionary I do a lot of talking. In a more formal setting it's called preaching and teaching. In preaching, stories are incorporated into the messages as a way of illustrating or explaining whatever truth the message is intended to convey.
Most of the time we preachers see stories as something to add to the message. It's not the focal point, but a means to an end. A way to help make a truth more clear by connecting it to something familiar and known. Jesus used stories in a more central way.
A simple story
One Sunday morning in the Philippines, as I went on and on with my message and followed a carefully written outline, I told a story for illustration. As I began to tell it, I engaged everyone's attention. I borrowed it from a book of parabolic stories made popular in Philippine culture by a doctor and journalist. The story revolves around a carabao (water buffalo). It's a simple story that transcends culture.
A farmer and his son traveled back from a day of farming with their carabao. The carabao is a powerful and mostly docile animal used for pulling heavy things and to plow fields. It's common in South East Asia and beloved in Filipino culture.
The farmer had his son ride on the carabao while he walked beside it. As they went by some people, they overheard them say, "Look at that lazy son! His father has worked hard all day and he insists on riding the carabao. How disrespectful!
So, the son got down from the carabao and the father mounted the carabao. They continued home with the father riding and the son walking, until they came to another group of people along the way. Once again, they overheard their conversation, "Look at that father who rides the carabao while his young son is forced to walk beside him. How cruel this father is to his son!"
The farmer and his son dismounted the carabao and began walking together, leading the carabao behind them. As they approached another group of people, this is what they heard, "Look at this foolish farmer and his son. Here they have a strong carabao to ride on after a long day's work, but they're too stupid to take advantage of what God has given them!"
This time the father joined the son on the carabao. They both rode the carabao and continued to their home. Again, people said something critical, "Look at them, the carabao has worked hard all day and this lazy farmer and son are making the carabao work even harder!"
The point of the story
The point of the story, of course, is that no matter what you do someone is likely to criticize it. It's just human nature.
This illustrates out how well story engages us. It draws us in and engages our emotions and our thoughts. And sometimes, the point of the story can be the story itself.
Have you experienced something like this where no matter what you do someone is critical about it?
Does any of this ring true with the story of your own life, or certain events in your life?
Give me some feedback on what you like (or not like) about what I wrote. You can make a comment below. Thanks for reading!