My oldest son is home from college. We are all together again as a family. Sitting around the dinner table, the stories begin to flow. Each of us has a story. Memories. Mostly funny. Sometimes embarrassing. But all of them told in a way that is intended to make us laugh, connect, and remember.
After the stories are told, our family feels closer…tighter…stronger.
That is the power of stories.
What we remember. How we remember. And how we tell them.
It is our stories that shape us, form us, give us identity…as individuals, married couples, families, churches, communities, and even nations.
I think of a newspaper.
There are literally a million stories that happen every day but the newspaper picks a few stories to tell. And those stories have a way of shaping how we view the world around us.
I think about my own life.
I am almost 49. Just doing the math, I have lived approximately 17850 days (give or take a few days because I don't have time to figure out leap years). If you guesstimate that an average day includes at least 100 different events, then there are probably two million possible stories that I could remember in my life. But I only remember a limited number. I could call these the "significant events" of my life but they are also the events that I have revisited in my mind, that I have interpreted, and that I have retold…to myself and probably to others…often with pictures, both real and in my imagination.
These are the stories that shape me, that become the basis of how I view myself, my life, and others in my life.
Think about your own life, your marriage, your family, your church, your community. What stories do you remember? What stories do you revisit? What stories do you tell? Whatever they are, they have shaped you and often form the basis of your identity.
So it is imperative that we remember well.
Not only remember well but interpret well.
Some memories can't be forgotten. Some stories have to be told. But how we remember, how we interpret, and how we tell them is up to us.
The Bible is full of stories, events in the history of humanity that have been chosen to be told.
The Bible does not ignore difficult, tragic stories. In fact, many are bothered by the "R-rated" nature and graphic stories of sacred Scripture.
But the Bible couches every story in a bigger story. Even the most sordid and shocking are remembered, interpreted, and told in a certain way…a redemptive way. They are meant to point to something bigger. They are meant to create a thirst for something better. They are meant to lift our eyes to something more beautiful.
The four Gospels all lead up to and focus on one story. The story of an innocent Man being falsely accused, betrayed, abandoned, beaten, and crucified, the most shameful and painful way that the Romans could devise for a man to die.
An odd story to remember and to tell.
Unless one sees it and interprets it within the bigger story.
The story of redemption.
The story of a love that cannot be fathomed.
The story of a God who entered our world to die for us and to graft us into His story.
And that's the story that all of us should tell.