I believe that it is a universal human trait to be drawn to stories. If you look across the span of history, you can see that the spoken word tradition, theater, and film all revolve around the concept of stories being told. Whether the story is real or made up, the truths conveyed in a story capture the imagination like nothing else can.
Stories seem to be at the very heart of who we are. Ernest Hemingway, one of my favorite writers, said, “There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” If you’re around anyone long enough, you are sure to hear something that starts with “There was this one time…” or “When I was your age…” And so it goes.
I believe that this wiring for story has been given to us by God. Our creator certainly knew what he was doing when he made our minds with the capacity to dream of things we have never seen before. But not all stories are equal.
While we are made to love stories, let’s not forget that the bible itself is a story. In fact, the bible is THE Story, the one that matters most of all. This is important to remember when we try to use our love for stories as an avenue to explore other stories in search for God. Don’t get me wrong, finding God in a story is not a worthless pursuit. Many stories can tell us much about ourselves and about the world that God has made. But these stories must remain peripheral to THE Story, to God’s Story. I may love Hemingway’s novels, and they are certainly entertaining and intriguing. But I would be wrong to chase God in Hemingway’s stories to the neglect of the Story revealed to me in God’s word.
I understand the tension. If you grew up in church like me, you can probably recite the stories told to you from a very young age. In time they can seem like reruns on a local cable channel. “Oh I’ve seen this episode before” we mutter as we flip to the next station.
But beware of passing too quickly by the words that we hold to be “living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword.” They are not stories just like the rest of them. They are words straight from the mouth of God.
Celebrate stories. Tell stories. Be captivated by stories that take your imagination on a journey. But never forget that God has given you an imagination first so that you can understand the images, climaxes and drama found in his word, not in Stephen King thrillers. The best part about it is that you will never be missing out on “good stories.” The stories in the pages of scripture would stand up against any novel of all time ever. And win.