Truth sneaking past your head to your heart.
When I was around ten years old, Louis L’Amour, the Hardy Boys, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, and when no one was looking Nancy Drew, captivated me. I was taken in by their stories. Lost in them. I knew nothing of C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien (this was a tragedy). When my older brother wanted to watch sports on TV, I found myself gravitating toward adventures like “Batman & Robin”, “Star Trek” and “Gilligan’s Island”.
I was learning about life and truth. My heart was enthralled with the stories of adventure.
Then high school came, and the boys at my school expressed very little interest in reading books. Although most of us boys told stories, writing stories didn’t seem a worthy profession. In fact, I never thought of it outside of recreation. Other things seemed to become more important. By that time, I had read everything lying around the house. It seemed I had read it all. Amazing how small our worlds can seem.
It would be over ten years later, after an undergraduate degree when I was reawakened to my joy of reading. Someone had told me that I should read J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” before I saw the movies. So, my wife and I made the commitment to get through the inches thick trilogy. His lengthy description of misty mountains, old forests and old kingdom halls exploded in my imagination.
Shortly thereafter I was introduced to John Eldredge’s “Wild At Heart”. This was a transformative voice, awakening me to a journey as a man and a follower of Jesus.
In John Eldredge’s “Epic”, he would write:
“Life, you’ll notice, is a story.
Life doesn’t come to us like a math problem. It comes to us the way that a story does, scene by scene. You wake up. What will happen next? You don’t get to know-you have to enter in, take the journey as it comes. The sun might be shining. There might be a tornado outside. Your friends might call and invite you to go sailing. You might lose your job.”
I love reading for the journey. It takes me past my head into my heart. Another hero of mine, C.S. Lewis understood this as well. In a recent article in Christianity Today, Dan Dewitt writes on why C.S. Lewis stopped writing in defense of the gospel directly. Theology buffs call this writing style “apologetics.” Lewis eventually shifted his writing to stories.
“But supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world,” Lewis later said of the power of fiction to present truth, “Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons?” Lewis thought so. And thus, his writing career focused on smuggling theology behind enemy lines. The enemies Lewis now faced were comfort and post-war apathy: He would strike at their imagination.”
-Why C.S. Lewis Didn’t Write for Christianity Today, Christianity Today, 12/27/2012, Dan Dewitt
I believe there is a missing link in many stories. A divide from merely entertaining to transforming. It’s the Gospel. The great stories subtly reveal the gospel message. Good books don’t end with an altar call, but they do whisper something about eternity. They nudge us to the Father. A little closer to His dream of eternity. The Gospel is the resolution to all that ails us humans. It resolves many hopes, dreams and plot lines.
This week, I have read segments from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables and The Grizzly King by James Oliver Curwood. These imaginations are awakening me to the Good News of who I am in Christ. The written words are bringing alive my own God-given creativity. Truth is sneaking past my head into my heart.
I hope and pray that great writers mired in apologitics will come alive by abandoning these all too logical theologies. I want to see a revival of storytelling. Hollywood has abandoned the good story for uninteresting sex, wanton violence, and soap opera drama. There is real opportunity for us Christ followers. I would love to experience the creativity of writers, alive in who they are, weaving, intertwining beautiful words and plot lines. It is time for some good stories, God given stories. No, it is time for great stories to be written.