In Papua New Guinea, most of the people speak a pidgin language, a trade language, called Tok Pisin. When someone invites you to visit he or she will say, “You must come and “stori” with me.” Telling stories is their way of understanding the world and people around them, their way of relating what is in the depths of their hearts. A man who had lived in that country a long time said, “You don’t just blurt information here, you must build on it, make it into a drama, give it life.”
I watched a Papuan friend do exactly that. His head swivelled as he made eye contact, often repeating parts and using his hands with emphasis to make sure everyone was getting it all. The people leaned forward, intent on his words, even though it was a story they all knew, an old folk tale that had been told and re-told for many generations.
I have heard it said that there are less than thirty unique plot-lines from which to choose when writing fiction. With such limited material, I once despaired of ever doing anything unique. But, like that Papuan man who kept his audience spellbound, I have discovered that it isn’t so much the story itself that captures people, but the way in which it’s told and the unique perspective of the teller.
Jesus knew this when he told stories to those he sat with in the markets and houses of Palestine. The stories he told weren’t anything new. They were simple stories about fishermen and farmers, about the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. But as He told them He allowed them to see with His eyes, giving them a perspective that took them to depths they had never gone before. In a sense, He told them what they already knew, but in such a way that they drew in their breath with fresh understanding. He allowed them to see with His Father’s eyes and the view was suddenly astonishing.
We too can open the eyes of our readers to the wonder of our world and our God. The Apostle Peter, as he was preaching, once said “We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (2Peter 1:16).
We have not seen Jesus face to face on this earth, but we have seen his majesty. We’ve seen it in the world around us, in the people around us, and most astonishingly in our own lives. As believers we have had the longings of our hearts satisfied, the drama of our lives given meaning, and that which was once dead brought to life. That is the story we can and must tell, over and over, in all the plot lines and all the turns of phrase.
It is a simple truth, the essential truth, the only story. May He find us faithful.
Marcia’s inspirational writing has won awards in both Canada and the U.S. Her devotionals are distributed to thousands and her novel, One Smooth Stone, won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award in 2006. Marcia is also a sought-after speaker for women’s events. Visit her at www.vinemarc.com