Thursday, April 7, 2011

what is a LIVING BOOK? part two

“Wait until you hear this story,“ someone says, and we’re all interest.  On long family trips, in the days before cars had seat-belts, I used to crawl into my grandmother’s lap and beg her to tell me a story.  “Once upon a time,“ she opened, followed by Jack and the Beanstalk, Androcles and the Lion, or Beansie and Peasey. (The origin of the latter still puzzles my little sister and me as adults.  After research and reflection, we have concluded it was our grandmother’s imaginative tale invented for the entertainment of the two little girls listening).  A generation later, my husband discovered that adding one more episode to his ad-lib adventure story told to our children extended the duration of the back-rub they gave him.  There is pleasure in a story for the story-teller and the story-listener.

Our Heavenly Father knows this.  He has given us a story and we are in it.  Each day we live is one more episode in the story of God.  I once heard someone distill all movies to one plot:  Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again.  One of my favorite theologians distills the Bible story similarly:  Life in the garden, leaving the garden, getting back to the garden – only better. 

Part of the story I’m living right now is running this Living Books Library where I’m frequently asked, “What is a living book?”  Truly there is only one living book, “the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword.”  After all, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”  In relating the coming of Christ, John says, “In the beginning was the Word.”  The Word is God’s story for us, pure truth, powerful to change the life of anyone who is nourished by it.  God has made us for story. All of history is His-story.

My story-telling grandparents knew the power of a story to entertain and to communicate some truths of life to their granddaughters.  Homer and Aesop and Chaucer told such powerful stories they are still being told and re-told.  Jesus taught in parables to those with ears to hear.  Even pagans know the story of the prodigal son.  From sermon illustrations to the stories in the news, the things we remember are tied to a story.  Our love of story tells us a lot about who we are.  Our Father in Heaven made us to love them, to feed on them, to learn through them.

In the chapter of the story we are living in right now, this age so boastful of its knowledge and information and technological prowess, we still gravitate to the well-told tale. If we are honest, we realize that everything we know, remember, talk, and think about, came to us through one story or another.  Just as nutrition is not best absorbed through tablets, but through good food, facts nourish the mind when well-wrapped in an unforgettable story.  That is what a “living book” does.

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