Tell The Story Again.
Easter has passed once again. I hope that in the midst of momentous things taking place in our world that you had time for personal meditation and reflection on what the Son of God did for you and me – to feel the agony of Gethsemane, to walk with Him on the Road to Calvary, to be there at the foot of the Cross and to share with the disciples in the wonder and triumph of the Resurrection.
We all know the real meaning of Easter gets lost for the majority of people in the hype of eggs and bunnies and never-ending chocolate – but pity help us if we haven’t given our grownup kids a chocolate egg. When people ask us how was our Easter, it is a good time to tell them that the real story is more wonderful than anything they could imagine – the Story of new beginnings, of restoring the years that the locust has eaten, of peace, and meaning – real meaning, and being really alive. There are so many ways in which this can be done but there’s no need to preach, just tell one aspect of the story and how it affected you. Well, I sat for a while at the foot of the cross and meditated on what the Son of God did for me and what a difference that has made in my life.
This is something we need to practise; to tell the old, old story again and again. Practise telling it to each other, to family or Christian friend and then go tell it on the mountain. Tell it with vigour and excitement. You can still eat your chocolate, share some with your neighbour, and then tell them the story.
Don’t underestimate the power of The Story. After all, God’s Word does not return to Him empty. There is a time to be intellectually persuasive and there is a time to just simply tell The Story and let it do its own work. Tell them why you are telling it: I want you to know this story like I know it because for me this is the most significant thing I have ever known – to know that there is a God who loves me and who I can call Father. You may be laughed at – cry if you will, and then tell The Story again. Do not stop.
The power of The Story has taken on new realisation for me recently and I would like to share that with you:
Well, I’ve been moving for a long while but I’ve only just realised what the journey has been.
It has been a journey from a primarily intellectual acceptance of what God has done – with appropriate commitment – to a deeper emotive appreciation of the wonder and intrinsic mystery of the most magnificent story of all time, and to have the glory of the story permeate into my inner being and feel it.
Which probably brings me full circle for it was the pathos of the Easter account when I was about 10 or 11 years old that first compelled me to surrender my life to the dying Jesus who loved me so much that He would die in my place.
And now I want to tell the story and I want it told to me when I can no longer tell it.
And, looking back, I’ve been telling the story often. I tell it to people in need – particularly people with serious illness or who know they are going to die – especially of the Christ on the Cross and the conversation with the two criminals – a wonderful way to cut through the obstructions that sometimes get in the way of simple but true surrender. I’ve told it in my letter to patients with an appropriate emotive element, and I’ve emphasised the wonder and mystery and ‘magic’ of the Christmas story in the Christmas services that I lead. But I didn’t realise the full extent and significance of my move until now.
What caused me to realise it? Re-reading CSLewis Myth Became Fact. I guess – like many others – I’ve struggled a little with the use of the word ‘myth’ in referring to the story of God’s relationship to mankind even though I thought I understood it. But reading it again has highlighted the importance of The Story in getting through to people and the need to tell it over and over again. The hymn written by Kate Hankey Tell me the Old, Old Story takes on new meaning. (Did you know she wrote 50 four-line stanzas?)
This is the story of all stories, the grandest and most wonderful and full of wonder – the campfire story to end all stories, the retelling of the real ‘dreamtime’. The Story is truly awe-inspiring and we rapidly run out of suitable adjectives to describe – but what would we expect? Maybe to be surprised by joy…
Lewis says it well (from Myth Became Fact):
…we must both assent to the historical fact and also receive the myth (fact though it has become) with the same imaginative embrace which we accord to all myths.
Perfect Myth and Perfect Fact: claiming not only our love and obedience, but also our wonder and delight, addressed to the savage, the child, and the poet in each one of us no less than to the moralist, the scholar, and the philosopher.
May the reality of The Story permeate into your being; may it be real when you are down, when you are in pain, and when you are tempted. May it be there in all your relationships including every aspect of your marriage. May it be there in your joys and especially in your praises and worship of the God whose Story it is.
And when 20 or 30 of us go hiking soon in the forests of southwest Western Australia and sit around the campfire I shall ask for people to tell The Story in their own words and I will borrow from CSLewis and from George Lucas in the paragraph with which I shall stimulate their creativity (and we will – as always – finish with a round of prayer):
A long, long time ago in a galaxy far removed from the centre of the universe, God put a small planet and he called it Tellus. It was a pretty planet. It had all the wonderful sorts of things that we can imagine – pretty lakes and waterfalls and beautiful flowers and rolling hills and it was warm and fresh and moist and the air was so good to breathe. It was the kind of planet that made you feel really alive. And God walked there…