At Home with God - Story
Stories have great impact in our lives. They teach us, help us process our emotions, bind us together as families and cultures, help us make sense of our world. God tells us stories in Scripture to explain who he is, who we are in relation to him, and how we fit into the bigger story God is telling.
Stories can form us for good or for bad. Each of us, including our children, are writing an internal story that brings meaning to our perceptions about ourselves, the world, and God. Our life events, our experiences with one another, how people view us and speak to us -- all add layers to our stories.
As families we can harness the power of stories to build positive spiritual experiences. The stories we tell can lead us closer to one another and to understanding how we fit into the family of God.
Most of us love a good story whether we are reading it, watching it or telling it. As families we have an opportunity to use story for good, to create identities that match who God says we are, to see God in the stories of our lives.
Our stories begin with God. The way we view the Bible can ground us in the true story of our lives. When we see Scripture as a cohesive story, and regularly tell that story within our families, we have an opportunity to raise our awareness of God's presence in Scripture and in our everyday stories. We grow in our love for God and our acceptance of his love for us.
Our family experiences also give us a great opportunity to create a family bond with the stories we retell and emphasize. Stories that get retold gain depth and meaning over time. When we pay attention to the types of stories we repeat to one another we can shape our family identity as well as individuals' views of themselves.
Here are some practical ideas for including story into your spiritual experiences:
1. Put yourself in the stories of Scripture. Pick a story from the Bible. Read it aloud as a family. When you are finished, ask each family member to choose who they want to be in the story. When everyone has found a character, read the story again, paying attention to what your character might be seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling in the story. Let each family member share their experience of the story from their character's viewpoint.
You can repeat this story another day with family members choosing to be a different character. Notice how your perspective changes.
2. Tell family stories of how God has worked in your lives. Pick stories that illustrate God's faithfulness, love, comfort, provision etc. Write the stories down together as your own spiritual history. Add stories as they happen.
3. Notice the stories that your family gravitates toward in movies and books. What are you learning from those stories? How are they reflecting some truth about God, yourselves or others? Talk about these questions as a family.
Here are some ideas for your toolbox:
Do you have a favorite Storybook Bible or a family Bible? Consider keeping it next to the toolbox. Need help choosing a Storybook or Bible for younger kids? See our downloadable resource (also referenced below).
Use flash cards on a ring to record your favorite Bible and family stories. Let family members choose a story from your cards to tell the family during story time.
Consider small props to tell Bible stories -- little people, a shepherd, sheep, small boat or other animals. After you have read the story, let children retell it using the small objects.
Consider keeping small objects in your toolbox that represent special family stories -- a seashell from a special vacation, a rock from a meaningful walk, pictures that were drawn to capture a special time together. Use these objects to retell and remember these times together.
And you must love the Lord your God with
all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT)
In Deuteronomy 6, after giving the nation Israel the 10 commandments, the Lord emphasizes the importance of keeping his commands so that it may go well with his people. He wants them to be aware of their relationship with him in everything they do.
When their children ask why they live this way, Deuteronomy 6:21 instructs them to tell their children the story: "We were slaves in Egypt..." Parents, grandparents, elders are to go back to the beginning, to ground the children in the story which gives them context for their lives and their relationship with God. We see this pattern throughout the Old Testament: the people of Israel are routinely called back to their story. To remember God's faithfulness and his action throughout history.
How might our families change if we rehearsed the story of Scripture as if it were our own? How might we grow if we began to intentionally tell our own stories in a way that gives our children security in their relationship to us and to the God who made them?