Telling the Truth . . .
I know a good number of people who won't "bother" to read fiction. . . .
The reason most often given is that these busy individuals only have time for "truth" or "facts" (as in a biography or a newspaper article). They don't have time for fictional stories. Some wonder why anyone would write a fiction story about faith. They reason that Christian Fiction is a contradiction in terms.
Let's say for a moment that you and I are sitting somewhere talking. Better yet, let's make that a church pew. Think of the Bibles all around us. The sounds of the sermon and the worship music are just now fading. Banners proclaiming God's greatness, truth, and victory surround us on the walls. I've asked you to linger a moment because I have something to say to you. If you have the slightest inkling my words may touch upon an area of struggle or a place of pain in your life, you may bolt from the room. Or maybe you'll just stiffen your back and begin laying a nice, solid wall of brick in front of your heart.
I begin by saying, "You know what's wrong with your life?" Yes. I'm just gonna give it to you straight. The truth, the precise reality, the facts. That's what you want, right? And, you're ready to agree when I give it to you, right?
Despite our recitations about wanting to know the truth, most humans only want to know it when it, a) makes us feel good, or b) is about somebody else. We're full of good intentions, and excuses . . . and reasons why the truth doesn't apply to us in a particular situation.
God has known about the "hearing problem" in people all along. That's why He often speaks to people through stories, allegories, and parables. God has people tell stories? Why?
You're King David and you've successfully averted being caught in adultery and murder. Of course, your times with the Lord have totally dried up . . . but how would anyone else know this?
"Your highness," a servant says. "Nathan the prophet is here to see you."
You're nervous. Does Nathan know . . . anything? You know you can't avoid him. It would look very suspicious if you refused to see him. Plus, you've begun to sorely miss the presence of God. There was a time when you had such sweet communion with the Lord. Maybe in Nathan's face you'll see just a glimpse of the glory, a hint of the peace YOU used to experience.
Nathan comes in and after a few uncomfortable moments he starts telling this story about a guy with a lamb. Good. No lightning bolts, no screaming. This is about somebody else's problem. Someone with a lamb. You were a humble shepherd boy not so long ago, so this story has some interest. You forget all your misgivings about Nathan's visit and you get caught up in his report of a man with one beloved little ewe lamb. You've kept lambs before, loved them, raised them, and even endangered your own life to save them from harm!
Nathan continues, and the guy in his story seems like a good sort. He loves his lamb. He's got a rich neighbor who has herds of sheep and cows. And when this wealthy neighbor has a guest over, rather than kill one of his own sheep, he takes the first man's only lamb and serves it up for dinner!
You're outraged. Nobody in your kingdom is getting away with THAT! God made you king and He's given you truth in your heart. You know right from wrong, and this rotten neighbor who stole and killed the lamb should be punished severely. . . right now!
2 Samuel 12:7-9 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master's house to you . . . I gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the LORD by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him . . .'"
You see, David was all too ready to deny/defend what he himself had done. But when presented with a dilemma involving someone else he could clearly see the error in it. After he'd grasped the truth, it could be applied to his own situation. Instead of being defensive or angry, he was broken to the core and he repented.
God's desire is not to punish us, but to have unbroken communion with us.
God used a "story" to get past David's defense system and shoot him right through the heart with an arrow of truth--not so He could kill David, but so David would turn around. As soon as David repented, he was on his way to having a restored relationship with the Father.
Jesus, The Truth, stood among the people and told the story of a young man who wanted his inheritance now. Some of the fathers in the audience probably remembered that pain--the pain of having a son say, in essence, "Your only value to me is your money. I wish you were dead so I could have it now!" Some of the others in the crowd probably thought of a sibling who was a selfish fool (not an obedient child like them). Still others wished that they could get their inheritance now. As Jesus' tale unfolded, people began to identify with different characters, began to see motives laid bare, to see how things had gone sour . . . and then, somehow, came to a place of seeing their own, true state.
I wonder how many prodigal sons went home after they heard Jesus' story, willing to be just a servant in their father's house. I wonder how many people realized how stupid they'd been with their choices and that very moment resolved to meet with God and make it right. All because of a story.
I believe part of my purpose in life is to communicate God's love to people . . . and one way I'm gonna do it is with stories.
Copyright 2004 Terry L. Craig
If you liked this article, you might want to read, Science Fiction and Our Brokenness
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Other fiction books published at Wild Flower Press, Inc.:
by Stephanie Bennett