Reading Time: 4 mins

God's Home-Word Stories

Reading Time: 4 mins

Don’t get in the habit (or, if you already do it, get out of the habit) of saying, “I could never talk about these things the way my pastor does.”

Have you ever told a story? What about a biblical story, like the Sower and the Seed or Jonah in the belly of Leviathan? Story-telling is different than formal preaching, but in some ways it is more powerful. It may not call for the specific kind of discipline demanded of pastors when they prepare a sermon, but it is just as challenging, and possibly, life-changing.

Two-thirds of the Bible is narrative. More than that, once we begin to tell the stories of Adam and Eve, Noah and Abraham, Jacob and Joseph – to name just a few – we will begin to discover the influence of their tales on all other stories: themes about succumbing to temptation, being drowned in judgment, the struggles of personal sacrifice and divine salvation, back-stabbing and being sold out by family, and on and on. The power of God’s story pushes its way into all other tales. 

It may seem like you’re faltering at first, but gradually you will become better at oral storytelling, recounting the exploits of saints like Gideon, Joshua, and Elijah. And there is much about God’s word and way you will learn as a result too.  

Telling the stories that God has given to us demands that we give up on perfectionism. We must pray for strength to squash our inner-critic, because it’s not about being the best skald or apologist. It’s about getting out of the way and letting God seize the spotlight. We are where God embodies his word, and we are that embodied word when the ancient, and not so ancient, tales flow out of our mouths. The story possesses us and we cease to be; the Spirit’s eternal flame emblazons the air inspiring our listeners, and Christ is incarnate for all to hear and see. 

The power of God’s Word is realized in the moment of telling others about the calling of Levi, or the woman at the well, or when Jesus appears to Thomas after the resurrection. In one way, these are fragmented sections of a cosmic story that stretches out beyond comprehension. But, it is also the whole of the good news for the one hearing it. 

So today, tell someone a story about the wilding God, who inhabits the borders between Tyre and Sidon, who heals dog-Gentiles. Pick your favorite episode from the life of David and recount it to family and friends. This is where God springs into action. He loves retelling the stories of when he was faithful to his promises, turned round the lives of sinners, and lifted up the downcast. God is dynamic and at no other time do we get to experience quite like when he’s speaking to an audience. 

The power of God’s Word is realized in the moment of telling others about the calling of Levi, or the woman at the well, or when Jesus appears to Thomas after the resurrection.

If you lack imagery, read the psalms. They’re bleeding with rich illustrations. Read them, internalize them, memorize them, and set them loose in conversation because the human soul feeds on images. Get used to tasting God’s Word on your tongue! 

When God embodies his word, he doesn’t let it settle, he opens our mouths and sets loose a redemptive flood that regales ears taken captive to despair and chaos. 

Telling stories about God’s works, then, is unabashedly counter-cultural. It flips upside down the trite world-weary fairytales about hell, earth, and heaven. In the biblical stories we are actually given a glimpse of heaven and earth, and the hell of death. We are given godly truth that covers all of reality and reveals the hidden meaning behind everything. 

And so, don’t get in the habit (or, if you already do it, get out of the habit) of saying, “I could never talk about these things the way my pastor does.” 

The pastor’s primary vocation is to preach and teach God’s Word, but that does not preclude any of us from participating in retelling the potent biblical stories that the Spirit wants to express through us. He stands in our souls, crying out in the wilderness, making himself known, so that another lost sheep may be carried home to attend a party planned particularly for them. 

People have been telling stories about God and his ways for generations: at dinner tables, round camp fires, leaning against the pigpen, and sitting in weathered pews. God’s redemptive acts are the highest, purest, most completely life-changing stories anyone can and will ever hear, so he does not delay their telling. Wherever we happen to be, he comes to us to spin another yarn about Jesus asleep in the prow of a boat or berating his unsalted followers. 

We tell the ancient stories because they’re all chapters in a book that culminates with the coming of the Christ, the paschal Lamb who’s known to have been crucified since the beginning of the world. 

This is why we tell stories, because we know that they not only tell us about our past and what’s waiting for us in the future, but what the coming of Christ Jesus means for us today. It’s the stories that God has inspired and passed on to us that lead us to Jesus. We can talk about weather patterns, politics, and who won the game last night, but none of those stories help us find our way to where we belong. 

So don’t just recite biblical stories, imagine them in front of your listeners. See them happening around you as you speak, from beginning, to middle, to end. God’s Word is incandescent, sublime, and most importantly, the truth. And the truth is not facts. It is deeper than that — it is Jesus. Jesus is a weave of eruptions that happen right there in the telling of how he led the Israelites through the Red Sea onto dry ground, how he shielded three boys in a furnace, and how he healed a leper with his words. 

Like Jacob wrestling with an angel, there’s something bigger at play when we tell stories. God has come to defeat us, to bless us, to leave us with a limp that marks us as his holy one. And at the end, that’s all that is necessary to be a story-teller. That’s all that is needed to lead others home to Christ Jesus, because all of God’s stories lead us home.