Stories are important for many reasons, but one of the most important is this: stories move us. And we need to be moved. We need to mature. We need to go on. Because where we are going is more amazing than any story can describe.
Stories can tell us who we really are, getting past the “watchful dragons” of our intellects. While rescuing us from certain dangers, this, of course, exposes us to new ones. As author N.D. Wilson suggests, a young girl cannot read and enjoy the Twilight Saga and emerge unchanged. And not likely for the better.
Stories move us. They slide past our prejudices, subtly form new ones, and expose us to perspectives to which we are blind.
When King David took Uriah’s wife, then murdered Uriah, he knew intellectually that what he had done was wrong. He was the one who wrote Psalm 119. He knew and loved God’s Law. But it didn’t stop him from doing the things he did. What did finally arrest him was a story.
And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds, but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.”
Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Why have you despised the word of the LORD, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the LORD, ‘Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house. And I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun.’” David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” And Nathan said to David, “The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die (2 Samuel 12:1-13 ESV).
Stories can help us admit, “I have sinned,” because they unearth the reality of what we’ve become. They let us, for even the briefest time, outside of ourselves, so we can look with some clarity on people who may remind us of ourselves. Even villains.
We are all caught up in a story. Let’s share good ones with our children — big, hearty, happy, dangerous tales to feed their hungry souls. Not any stories will do. As C.S. Lewis warned, the wrong kind of stories can lead us to be unprepared for dragons.
And the big, true story about the Reality in which we live is a “kill the dragon, get the girl” story.
You better believe it.