Why Do Stories Matter?

Most of you probably know I’m kind of obsessed with story. Maybe some of you don’t—it hasn’t been, of itself, the central focus of Lookout for Hope. Lately, though, I’ve been thinking a lot about story—more on that later—and I want to tell you a bit about why I love story, and why it’s so important.  It’s long, and may feel like it has nothing to do with stories at first, but bear with me.

Let’s start at the beginning.

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Gen. 1:1

You’ve probably heard this a million times. “In the beginning.”  The beginning of what? The world, you say. History. Right? 

Sure. But I think Moses, the writer, who was really something of a poet, is telling us more than a scientific fact here. “In the beginning,” feels like the start of a great epic. A kind of “Once Upon a Time.”   And in some ways it might as well begin with that, because what follows is an incredible story, full of betrayal and love, fantastic beasts, an evil villain and a great hero, sacrifice and death and the magic of an incarnation and resurrection. “In the beginning,” is the beginning of a Great Story, told by a Master Storyteller.

I think it’s appropriate to call God the "Master Storyteller" because He did, after all, come up with the world we live in. He’s the one with control over what happens. And He’s the one who, when his characters choose to disobey Him, wrote in a twist with a Hero that was magically both God and Man, who had the power to defeat the villain and restore our relationship to Him. God is the Master Storyteller.

There’s another really cool thing about God being the Master Storyteller.

“Then God said, Let us make human beings in our image, in our likeness…" Gen. 1:26a

We’re made in the image of the Master Storyteller. I think part of being in His image is having stories in our hearts, as part of us, as well as having a need to create and tell stories of our own. And we naturally understand a lot of our world through stories.

Why do you think Jesus told parables?

I used to think it was just because we were stupid and couldn’t understand what He was saying any other way. Which is partially true. In which case it’s already awesome that the God and Creator of the Universe would bother to try to explain something to us dust of the earth anyway.

But the rest of it, is that He knows story is in our hearts. He put it there. And He put it there because it’s in His heart, too.  That says volumes about God, and our relationship with Him, doesn’t it?

And guess what? There’s more.

Ever notice when you say something exactly like your mom? Or a sibling moves in a way that looks exactly like your dad and you do a double-take? It’s crazy, right?  We subconsciously do or say things in a way that mirrors our parents, and I think this happens when we tell stories, too. God is the Master Storyteller, and we have some of His Image in us, so when we go to tell stories, not only do we have our experience of the story we’re in to inform us, we also have some of the original Storyteller, too. We tend to use a lot of themes and structure that mirror the Greater Story.  In this way a lot of stories point to the Greater Story.

[at this point, the author of this post was temporarily incapacitated by a geek-out session in which the words, “DUDE!” and “WHOA!” featured heavily, along with lots of arm waving.]

Stories—and not just Bible stories, but those included—can tell us about the Greater Story. And God. And us. And they are a part of us on purpose, put there by a God who is the Master Storyteller. That is why I think stories are so incredible and important.