“You’re so excited about that!” The boy in front of me wears a look of mingled curiosity and amusement. He shakes his head slightly, and I can see him questioning my sanity – although it’s clear that this question hasn’t diminished his enjoyment of the tale.
It’s true – I am excited. It was a story that I’d heard and told many times in the past, but during the re-telling I have sat, stood, shouted, whispered, and shaken my finger at an offender who is long-since dead and reduced to words on the pages of our Bibles. In these minutes, I have been a prophet called by God, a king determined on justice for his people, and a very cowed man admitting his sins against his Father. As the story poured from my lips, I have known one thing: my audience is hearing something completely new. I have fed off the two things a storyteller most longs for: wide eyes and eager questions. As I have re-lived the story, the wonder of the first-time listener has rekindled joy and awe in my heart; I have heard the story as though for the first time as I realised afresh what put that sparkle in his eyes – the greatness of God, shown through the story.
This might come as something of a surprise from a self-confessed “church kid.” I have grown up in toddlers’ rooms and cell groups, played across stages, waved ribbons and worn tinsel halos, and there’s probably not a story in the Bible that I haven’t heard. On more than one occasion, I have rolled my eyes and said (perhaps with a whine in my voice), “But we’ve done that one!” Noah’s ark, Joseph’s coat and Moses’ staff, are part of my mental furniture, and if I ever met Abraham, I could greet him by name and ask him how the kids are doing. So how do Bible stories still put a spring in my step and a smile on my face? The answer, more often than not, is in the sharing.
It’s as a pair of eyes locked onto your face and a pair of ears tuned into your words, experiencing the story for the first time, that you find yourself knowing what has pulled the listener in. It’s as our words fall on fresh ears that we smile and glorify God for something we have known all along, but somehow forgotten along the way: He is wonderful! Wonderful, defined by Webster’s as “inspiring delight, pleasure, or admiration; extremely good; marvellous.” As our listener absorbs what we know, we are with them. As God’s glory unfolds before their eyes, we are polishing off the stories that have rusted in the air of our human hearts and letting them shine before us once more, in all their beauty. The stories that blew us away as children are the same stories that fill us with passion as adults, because the God they glorify is the same God – the King of Kings!
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