This spring, good friends of ours were trying to get their house ready to sell, so we offered to spend a Saturday helping them to paint, do yard work, and clean. Just before we arrived, my friend was working on the front of the house and saw a wire that had long bothered him. He traced it and saw that it actually went under his siding. Pulling it, he ended up with quite a bit of wire—it looked old and just seemed to be in the way. Since he was in the mood to quickly and efficiently take care of anything that was making the front of the house look bad, he got out his clippers and snipped the wire in several places. Things looked a lot better, he thought. About an hour later he went inside to make a call and realized that the wire he cut had actually served a purpose—it was the phone line!
We enjoyed hearing that story when we got there. It was fun to laugh together at his mistake, especially since he was laughing as hard as any of us. Our families have known each other for a long time, so that story joined others that we share as good friends. Our collection of stories helps us be a community together. Retelling them reminds us of what good friends we are. And that particular story shows an aspect of our friend’s personality that, in the context of all of the other stories we’ve shared, helps us to know him better.
Stories are like that. They tell us more about a person than simply listing personal traits. Stories give us insight and help us understand complex ideas more completely. Even though our culture is full of stories—on television, in movies, and in books—we still have the notion that stories are not as serious as other kinds of writing or talking. But stories form the core of how we know each other.
God could have easily given Moses a bullet-point list of the most important things we should know about him. But he didn’t do that. Instead, he used the stories of his people and the stories of the work Jesus did on earth so that we wouldn’t just know about him—we would come to know him. Just as stories shared with friends deepen our friendships, the stories of Scripture deepen our relationship with God.
Because these stories form the basis for how we know God we should tell them often. We should know them well enough that they become part of who we are. They should spill out of us as we’re going through our daily life. If we find ourselves thinking about Abraham and Sarah packing up to move when we’re packing up, or if we think of David facing Goliath when we’re facing giants of our own, then we can more easily find ourselves reflecting on God’s place in our lives. These stories define who we are—the people of God. Giving our children a rich heritage of Bible stories is essential to helping them develop that deep relationship with God. We owe them nothing less.
First Published in Nurture by Faith Alive.