Story-Loving People at Christmas Time

By Sunday, December 06, 2015 , ,

The premise behind this blog is stories. Stories are everywhere – books, places, movies, people, TV. And I just so happen to be particularly fond of British stories. :) But I think it’s plain through all of these things that we as people love stories. We spend extraordinary amounts of time and money on Netflix, movies, television, books, music, shows and performances, and so many other avenues of entertainment. And they all tell a story of a sort. Clearly, we are story-loving people. Why is this?

Not surprisingly, this is a question I’ve pondered long and hard, especially since I’ve loved reading from my earliest memories. Why do I get so absorbed in a huge collection of words that spin a story together before my mind’s eyes? Why do I and many other people become wrapped up in the lives of characters that someone else made up? We often feel their pains and joys deeply and get exercised over what happens to them (don’t lie). Movies, books, plays, songs, and TV shows make us laugh, cry, fume, and many things in between. 

I think we love stories because we were created by a God who loves them too. And He uses them often. Of all the ways that He could reveal Himself and His purpose to us, He chose to do it through a story and a book. God drew word pictures for Israel in the Old Testament. Jesus taught in parables, or short stories. They were simple, but rich in spiritual meaning. They touched the deep emotions of His hearers and spoke to fundamental problems and questions of humanity. And the best stories and fairytales continue to do this. They point us to something bigger than ourselves, like the stories in the Bible do. God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute to draw a story for Israel – Hosea was God’s word picture, showing Israel the severity of their unfaithfulness and the scandal of His love and mercy. Jesus’ parables spoke to the depth of humanity’s sinfulness and demonstrated something to His listeners about the kingdom of God. The best stories that we read and watch today are similar in function. They point to something bigger and leave us with applicable truth. You just have to look for it. For example… 

Kenneth Branagh’s new Cinderella encourages us time and time again to “have courage and be kind.” Cinderella’s perseverance and the prince’s pursuit of her show us that hope and love and goodness are real (read more here). Why do I revel in Pride and Prejudice and Downton Abbey so much? In Pride and Prejudice, Darcy and Elizabeth both learn humility. Through difficulty, Elizabeth finds that judging quickly is not always the best course, and Darcy learns that loving Elizabeth will mean sacrifice on his part. In Downton Abbey, family loyalty is prized. Matthew helps Mary to discover gentleness in herself that she didn’t know existed (read more here). Anna and Bates stand by one another through more trials than any couple should have to endure (but really can they please have a break this next season?). And more recently, Poldark fascinated me for similar reasons. It addresses complex issues like greed, poverty, marriage, justice, and family. And at the center of the story are themes of redemption, loyalty, and perseverance through Ross and Demelza. Ross rescues Demelza from poverty and abuse, bringing her to dignity and a new life. And in turn, Demelza’s optimism and compassion soften Ross’s stoic, unforgiving nature (read more here). If you zoom out (obviously, metaphors are never perfect), isn’t that a picture of the gospel from both sides? We have a Savior who raises us up to new, abundant life, and fruits of His Spirit in us are joy and kindness. 

Stories are powerful. They affect us. I love that about human nature. And I think God created us to love them because we are part of one too. We are currently players in the greatest story ever told – that a powerful, almighty God is redeeming people for His glory and pleasure. What a privilege to be part of it! And Christmas reminds me of this beautiful truth so poignantly. The incarnation was a turning point in God’s story of redemption, and as I reflect on it this December, I want it to also make me anticipate Christ’s second coming all the more. His final coming, when the story will conclude with His triumph, but also just begin with our ultimate glorification for eternity. That’s the one thing that our man-made stories can’t quite capture. They have to end, and isn’t it sad when you reach the end of a wonderful book, movie, or TV series? We’re made for eternity, which I think makes us rebel a little when something good must end. Thankfully, the story we’re in has no end. I think C.S. Lewis was one storyteller who came close to capturing that in the final page of The Last Battle

“…for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.” 

I’m ever so thankful for the stories I get to enjoy now, but oh, may I ever be mindful of the fact that they point to that greater story which will go on forever. I hope you will too, fellow Christian, as well as remember that your story-loving Savior gives you stories now to whet your anticipation for that eternal story of which He has so graciously made you a part.

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