From the Garden Bench - Stories
Words by David Hollows
What type of stories appeal to you? Might this include romance in the Mills and Boon genre, biographies of the famous and infamous, murder, mystery and suspense or crime thrillers?
Which do you regularly read and why?
What characteristics do you look for in a hero?
Do you have a favourite author that you come back to time and again?
Do you prefer to read a story then watch the accompanying film or DVD or does watching a film then encourage you to read the story.
For many years in schools the reading of a story will include the watching of the film to encourage understanding or as an exercise in Media Studies to contrast the film version with the actual story.
Do you remember any favourite stories from your childhood?
Did you read your same favourite stories to your children when they were little and do you read the same to your grandchildren?
Have you noticed if the types of stories have changed since you read stories to your children and the ones you now read to your grandchildren?
One of the sad impacts of social mobility has been the cost to family connections. Not too long ago, nuclear families meant that grandparents found it easy to read stories to grandchildren as they all lived very close to each other whereas today, families are spread much farther afield and reading stories has become more difficult.
This also applies to stories handed down from the generations: the stories about aunt Mary who was the first person in the family to go abroad for a package holiday or the grandparents who were the first in the family to have a TV, the younger generations generally show scant interest in these stories as they have very little contact with the wider family because they live at a distance.
An interesting thought is how the story tellers of our time will recount the Covid-19 narrative.
Will the film makers wave a creative wand over the pandemic as Steven Spielberg did with Schindler’s List? How will the historians record the virus and will children in the future ask a similar question to that which was asked after the World Wars; And what did you do in the pandemic? What will be your response?
Photo by Nong Vang via Unsplash
In some ways, stories have changed from the local, family stories and those of war to incorporate much more of what happens on the world stage: global warming and climate change, movement of refugees and human trafficking as well as political dissent and persecution of ethnic groups. Many stories are now far more heart-rending than in previous generations as social media and TV give us the opportunity to view the people involved and almost to become directly involved in the details of their stories.
Some stories on the world stage are repeated and show us that lessons are never learned: stories of corruption, persecution, political scandal demonstrate that certain societies perpetuate problems down the generations. Other stories on the world stage pose a different problem: stories can be re-written to match a prevalent mind-set: the Chinese Communist Party is re-coding the Bible to reflect the current political views also colonial or empire views are changed from historical narratives to provide a different perspective.
Each of us has a story but would you have enough to fill a book? Do you share your story with your children and grandchildren? Worth a thought!
God’s stories were originally oral ones passed down through the generations via story telling long before anyone thought to compile them in writing.
The Bible remains the number 1 best-seller across the world. For example, at Christmas 2020 more than 26,000 Bibles for children were distributed across Syria by partners connected to Open Doors, a leading Christian organisation.
God’s stories come in a variety of styles: poetry, biography, historical narratives and letters. The stories also feature a wide range of story types: adventures, espionage, murder, crime, romance and more.
There are many stories of true heroism and hope as well as down-right deception, devastation and loss.
There are the biographies of whole lives, from cradle to grave; Moses, Samson, John the Baptist and, of course, Jesus. On the other hand, there are snapshots of the lives of key characters such as Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Jonah and Nehemiah.
Yet all these characters have a part to play, large or small, in God’s story of redemption: God created humans to have relationship with us but the relationship was fractured so Jesus came to restore the relationship. This is a story of mercy, hope, faith and love and God invites us to be part of His story.
Do you have a favourite Bible story; Daniel and the lions, the walls of Jericho, Jonah and the whale?
Did you tell Bible stories to your children and do you tell them to your grandchildren? As believers, we have two stories to tell which are intertwined: our own personal story of what has happened in our lives and our faith story (or testimony) and, usually, one impacts the other.
Do you share your faith story with others; in your family, with your friends?
Do you intentionally and actively share your faith story with others or do you prefer your words and actions to reveal your faith story?
One is not a better way than the other as, what is important, is that we share our faith story with those people God places into our lives that through us, He can bless others.
You may think that your story would not fill a book but your story is enough to impact another person and encourage them to consider faith and choose to be a part of God’s eternal story.
So, how is your story?
You may find the following hymn useful:
Tell me the old, old story (Mission Praise 628)
Photo by SOCIAL CUT via Unsplash
You may find the following prayer helpful:
Eternal God, we have heard your compelling story in so many ways and through the witness of so many people. Your story has come to us through lives lived out in your truth, the sharing of your Good News by those who befriend us, the actions of your people in love and care. Lord, we choose to be a part of your story so that, as we have heard your story, we may speak your story through our words and actions. God, we give you the story of our lives that you will continue to write the chapters with us and incorporate our story into the lives of others and yours. In the name of Jesus, we pray.
God bless you