Do you have stories that give you courage or hope?
What are some stories that help you better understand a situation giving you direction and reminding you of what is important? These kind of stories help you and me create meaning out of the stuff of our life.
There was a time when most of these kind stories came from the Bible. According to Phyllis Tickle, an expert of the topic, two and a half generations have passed since that time when the Bible stories were known by most people (even those who didn’t go to church). Which means that we are in an exciting time ripe for discovering the Bible in new and fresh ways!
These ancient stories of God and humanity that have been forming and informing people for thousands of years make the world much bigger connecting people and cultures across space and time. These stories push and challenge, comfort and guide, and move us beyond ourselves while at the same nurturing our innermost being.
When you know a Bible story well and spend time with it, that story comes alive in your imagination making connections between your life, your relationships, your faith and God.
Here is an example of how a story of faith can work on a person. Often when I want something badly and I find myself praying fervently to God, I think of the story of the people of God who wanted a king. God and Samuel (the people’s leader and spokesperson for God) told the people that a king would not be good for them. A king would enlist their sons in an army, take their land as his own and charge taxes for his own extravagant living. A king will tell them where to go and what to do. Samuel reminded the people that God was their leader. But after all this the people were not convinced - they wanted, no NEEDED a king. So God gave them a king and it was pretty good … for a time. Until a king came a long who took their property for palaces and a kingly life, took their children and pressed them into service, and became a dictator telling them where to go and what to do.
Now, on one level this story has nothing to do with me and my life. This is a story about a people setting up a nation and government system. Yet, this story gives me some perspective. It reminds and shows me that what I think I NEED isn’t always the best in the end. The cool thing is that on another day the story may cause me to wonder about the purpose and role of government or about the areas in my life where I replace God with something less than God, but not today. That is the joy of stories, they have a surplus of meanings.
A great way to reconnect or discover some of these Biblical stories of faith is to find a good Children’s Story Bible - that way you get the basics of the story and then if a story peaks your interest you can go to a Bible and get the extended version. Enjoy exploring the stories of our faith and see what happens!
1 Kings 8
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, ‘You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.’ But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, ‘Give us a king to govern us.’ Samuel prayed to the Lord, and the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.’
So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, ‘These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plough his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.’