Thoughts to Ponder are my musings regarding community, things of the Spirit, and living as a Christ-follower. I don't offer the words of a professional or an expert; just a fellow traveler and explorer. Please don't take my musings more serious than I do. I've discovered a long time ago that I do not hold the keys of knowledge or wisdom. If I did, I misplaced them somewhere...typical.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Telling the Story

I know, I have always known, what I want my stories to achieve—I want to make people believe. Believe what I tell. Believe in it. Believe me. Belief is the one effect I'm always looking for, and I apply every device, every pause, every gesture, every verbal nuance and twirl, to that end. To achieve it, I myself have to believe: if I don’t, who will? I must believe ancient Ireland was as I describe it. The swords really did ring loudly off the shields. And the armor surely gleamed in the sun.

“In fact, I want my listeners to believe so deeply that I almost have them saying to themselves, ‘No, he couldn’t have been there, that’s impossible!’

These are the words of the old storyteller in Frank Delaney’s novel Ireland. Although the storyteller intertwines the historical fact with the invented tale, there is a message for those of us who spend our time in the Biblical story: believe the story at the deepest level.

I do not mean believe a proposition. I am not speaking of just spouting data. I have often thought I’d love to teach history, but not the way my history teachers taught it. I studied history as factual data, not as story. When I listened to lectures I heard data. It left me cold. Ah, but if someone would have told me the story, as if he had experienced it: what a lesson in history that would have been!

The Jews understand this. During Passover when they tell the story of the Exodus they do not say, When our ancestors were slaves in Egypt. They say: When we were slaves in Egypt.

So here’s a thought to ponder: do I really believe the gospel story? The question is not: Do I believe it happened; but: have I experienced this story at the deepest level? Have I ingested it—drank from it deeply, eaten the scroll—to the point that it has become part of me?

The old hymn asks, Were you there when they crucified my Lord? Were you? How can we ever hope to communicate this incredible story of love and hope if we haven’t witnessed it?

Think about it.


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