“Propositions are important, but they depend on the stories out of which they arise for their power, meaning, and application. Imagine having all the propositions of faith but none of the stories. They would be true, but we wouldn’t know what to do with them.”
Dan Taylor made this point in his talk on The Life-Shaping Power of Story at the Desiring God National Conference. The point he is trying to make is that stories give feet and legs, heart and soul, flesh and bones to propositions, illustrating and giving example for what we believe.
Think about the concept of faith, for example. How would explain faith to your children? Faith is an abstract concept, one difficult for young minds to fathom. But stories which give examples of faith are excellent ways to help children get a mental handle on the concept of faith.
Last week I touched briefly on the pilgrims and their story as an appropriate example at this time of year. Let me encourage you more specifically on how the pilgrims can be a great story example to illustrate faith to our children.
In Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember, Barbara Rainey details the voyage and landing of the pilgrims. Their journey was long and, although they made landfall in America in November, it wasn’t until December 11 that they finally found a suitable place to settle. Can you imagine landing in December, in cold and snowy Massachusetts, with no place to live?
Many pilgrims died that first winter, either living on the ship, or trying to build homes on land. When spring came, hope rose. Despite their difficulties, they still trusted that God had brought them there and would take care of them. Their hope rose after an Indian named Samoset strode into their meetinghouse and spoke to them in English!
Samoset told the pilgrims why the area in which they settled had no Indians. “He said that the Indians who had inhabited this area were called the Patuxets. They were a large Indian tribe who had murdered every white man who had ever landed in their territory. But four years before the Pilgrims arrived, the tribe suffered a mysterious plague, and everyone had died.”
“Neighboring tribes were so surprised by the tribe’s misfortune and total demise that they avoided the area, fearing they too would be killed by the plague. As a result no one lived on the land, and no one owned it. It was another example of God’s remarkable provision for the Pilgrims.”
Telling our children stories of the work of our remarkable God in the lives of his children will help their faith to grow. Barbara Rainey writes this about why she wrote this book as a way to tell her children about God’s providence in history:
“I wanted them to understand God’s sovereignty at work in the lives of our forefathers and His providential direction of their circumstances. For the Rainey family, Thanksgiving was not going to be just eating, hours of TV, naps, and leftover turkey sandwiches—followed by a stress-filled Friday of frantic Christmas shopping at the mall.”
As you look forward to celebrating Thanksgiving in a little more than two weeks, consider how to redeem the holiday so that your focus can be on our incredible God, in order to teach your children to grow in their hope in God.