1Give ear, O my people, to my teaching;
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings from of old,
3things that we have heard and known,
that our ancestors have told us.
4We will not hide them from their children;
we will tell to the coming generation
the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might,
and the wonders that he has done.
It seems only yesterday that our two sons were pleading at bedtime, “Tell us a story daddy!” And then the insistent cry for an encore: “Tell us another story, daddy!” We all love a story and the wonderment that begins with the enchanting words, “Once upon a time…”
When my mother died last month, I was having a hard time sorting through some of my feelings. I couldn’t quite put a finger on some emotions. Then my wife, Rita, helped me as she observed, “Youe mother’s death means that you are now the keeper of the stories.”
The keeper of the stories, yes, that’s it. Part of the gravity of what I was feeling was the awareness that generations of stories were now in my keeping. It was now up to me to preserve and pass on the stories to children and grandchildren.
Today’s scripture text speaks to all who are keepers of the stories. The psalmist is commanding us to pass on the stories “our ancestors have told us…to the coming generation” We are to faithfully recite the “glorious deeds” of the Lord.
The Bible comes down to us not as a textbook of systematic theology, or a treatise on metaphysics, but a book of stories. The Bible is a book about real flesh and blood people whose stories are interwoven into God’s one great Story of Redemption.
In recent years I have decided to stop playing it safe. I have decided to stop living with the breaks on. I have decided to so live the years allotted to me that I will have stories to tell my grandchildren.
But as an English teacher once told me, conflict and struggle are essential to any story. There is no story without a character who is struggling, struggling against forces outside or forces within. These struggles may be against forces of nature, against society, or against other persons. Or they may be struggles within, struggles against one’s weakness, against fear, against doubt, or temptation. But without struggle, there will be no story to tell.
Having just returned from the historic sites of Yorktown, Jamestown, Mount Vernon, Arlington Cemetery, and others, I am reminded that the stories we cherish are stories of great struggle. They are stories where something was at stake, where something was laid on the line.
I know that the stories I will be telling my children and grandchildren will be stories of redemption, of grace, of failures, of forgiveness, and new starts. But I pray that my stories will also be stories of faithfulness, of trust, daring, and steadfastness, like those in The One Great Story.
Reflect for a few moments on what stories you want to tell….
To new adventures!