"There were two men in a city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb which he had bought and brought up, and it grew up with him and his children. It ate of his own morsel, drank from his own cup, lay in his bosom, and was like a daughter to him. Now a traveler came to the rich man, and to avoid taking one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfaring man who had come to him, he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for his guest."
II Samuel 12: 1-4
EXPLORATION "Nathan Arrived With a Story"
"I sometimes wonder what hours of prayer and thought lie behind the simple and spontaneous parables of the gospel."
J. B. Phillips
How does a simple story help me better understand Biblical truths?
What lessons can I learn from the story Nathan shared with King David?
INSPIRATION "The divine art is the story."
I deeply appreciate the above quote penned by famed Danish author Karen Blixen who wrote under the "pen name" Isak Dinesen. One of her most famous works was "Out of Africa," a story filmed in Kenya depicting biographical elements from the author's own life.
One of my favorite parts of the beautifully filmed movie shows Dinesen reading by firelight to her friends.
The soft voice of actress Meryl Streep, who plays the role of Dinesen in the movie, is nearly mesmerizing. And it is easy to see why Dinesen's friends were so captivated by her story-telling ability.
When I first saw the movie, and particularly the firelight readings, it took me back to my own childhood when our family would camp out in the White Mountains of Arizona and every afternoon when the brief rain showers relegated us to our tent for cover, we would lie on top of our sleeping bags, and my mother would read exciting tales of far away lands.
As time has passed in my own life, I've found that as humans, whether young or old or in-between, we all have a unique affinity for stories. There seems to be this special place in our hearts for tales that capture our imaginations. The poet Muriel Rukeyser even went so far as to say that the universe, rather than being made up of atoms was, "made of stories." As we proceed through the Bible, we easily can see that God, in His infinite wisdom, frequently used real stories about real people not only to enlighten and strengthen but to instruct and correct. As Terry Williams noted, stories are "sacred visualizations, a way of echoing experience."
This may help us understand why when God's Son, Jesus Christ, came to earth, one of the tools He most frequently used to get
the attention of people or to help provide life-lessons for them, came from parables, stories Jesus shared with His listeners.
The parables or stories Jesus related often had to do with the common occurrences in everyday life. Instead of trying to get into some theological argument or nit-pick about political differences, Jesus told stories about a woman sweeping her house looking for a lost coin; about a young man leaving his father's home for the fast life only to end up living in a pig sty; and about a traveler getting mugged and the kind "outsider" who stopped to rescue him. All these stories and many others took Jesus' listeners to places they understood and related to.
Most of the time, when we think about the earthly stories Jesus used to teach heavenly principles, our focus is mainly on the New Testament. But the use of stories isn't a New Testament novelty, for the Old Testament, as we have quickly learned, is filled with one story after another and there's no better example of a "teachable story" than our text for today. In addition to stories being used to teach us valuable lessons, I'd like to offer another reason why I believe our Father in heaven used the gift of story-telling in His attempt to reach the heart of one of His wayward children, King David.
As you read the story contained in II Samuel 12: 1-4, you can't help but find yourself drawn in by the plight of the man with one sheep. You become sympathetic to this man's situation. But what I find so thought-provoking in this particular case is that God didn't take a club and hit David over the head with it, nor did He send a screaming messenger who declared David hell-bound.
Instead, God sent a storyteller, His prophet Nathan, who told David, in a very detailed manner, about an injustice that had taken place right under his nose, in his kingdom.
This set me to thinking about the way we approach those who may be floundering or who have made a mistake in their own lives. How do we approach people when they have fallen? Do we, like Jesus, share a simple story? Or do we find fault and accuse? Or worse, do we gossip and spread vicious rumors?
There is an old hymn with words penned by Fanny Crosby that says much better than I can, the power a story has to change a life. I'd like to share these words with you as our Affirmation today for they tell me there is power in a story! Especially, in the story of Jesus.
"Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word,
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard;
Tell how the angels, in chorus
Sang as they welcomed His birth,
Glory to God in the highest,
Peace and good tidings to earth.
Fasting alone in the desert,
Tell of the days that He passed,
How for our sins He was tempted,
Yet was triumphant at last;
Tell of the years of His labor,
Tell of the sorrow He bore,
He was despised and afflicted,
Homeless, rejected, and poor.
Tell of the cross where they nailed Him,
Writhing in anguish and pain.
Tell of the grave where they laid Him,
Tell how He liveth again;
Love in that story so tender,
Clearer than ever I see;
Stay, let me weep while you whisper,
Love paid the ransom for me.
Tell me the story of Jesus,
Write on my heart every word,
Tell me the story most precious,
Sweetest that ever was heard."
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
P.S. My book, When A Woman Meets Jesus, is now available wherever books are sold and on the internet at www.amazon.com, Christianbook.com, or by calling toll-free, 1-800-Christian. You can also go to www.whenawomanmeetsjesus.com and purchase the book through Paypal for $8.00. Or by calling Transformation Garden at 1-888-397-4348.
For more from Dorothy, please visit transformationgarden.com.