Cynthia Pearl Maus packs a world of insight into a short space when she says: “You may have tangible wealth untold, caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you could never be; I know someone who told stories to me” (in David Larsen’s Telling the Old, Old Story, p. 13). For reasons I cannot fully explain, those lines detonated as an existential sunburst in my soul the first time I read them. Tears welled up in my eyes; in part, I suppose, because I read them as a father who tells stories to his children. I suspect my response was also owing to the fact that my heavenly Father tells stories to me, and his stories have enriched my life beyond measure.
“Richer than I you could never be; I know someone who told stories to me.” Maus certainly means to say that stories are told to children who are loved. And that is right. But I think she is saying something more. She recognizes the singular contribution story-telling can make to the development of moral character, psychological stability, intellectual depth and similar soul-shaping inheritances. Stories provide children with roots—teaching and grounding them in transcendent realities. Stories shape souls, who steer cultures and define eras.
By creative design we are programmed to thrive on stories. Elie Wiesel is quoted on the same page in Larsen’s book as saying: “God made man because He loves stories” (emphasis mine). That statement walks just as well on its head: God made stories, because he loves man. The God of the Bible is a story-telling God who graciously roots his people in the truth, motivates them to live righteously, and comforts their hearts by means of stories. Read more about The Case for Story Telling