Do You Excel In the Magic Art of Storytelling?

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Grandpa Porter could tell some great stories. Some of them were even true. In all fairness they might all have been factual.

The last few years, though, I’ve wondered about some of them.

He would sit in his porch swing and fire up his pipe with Prince Albert tobacco. He might tell us stories like the one about the strange snake he encountered in the woods. He beat it into pieces with a stick, but the rascal rejoined itself and crawled off after he left.

In winter, the story man moved into the front room where you had to dodge thunder clouds of tobacco smoke drifting towards you in the warm room. If you got trapped in one of those things and you could forget about breathing for a while.

Now that I have grandchildren, I’ve asked myself a few times if all of Grandpa’s stories were 100% exact. As someone rightly said, “The older I get, the better I was.” Memory does have a tendency to inflate things. (Or deflate them if we did something stupid).

There is a truth that we often forget, though. People who have lived a while (notice I didn’t say, “old folks,”) have an obligation to keep true stories alive among their people.

In some West African cultures there is a person called a “griot” who does this job. According to Wikipedia he is “a West African historian, storyteller, praise singer, poet and/or musician. The griot is a repository of oral tradition, and is also often seen as something of a societal leader due to his traditional position as an adviser to royal personages.”

We need people like this in the Church. No, not those who intone, “Back in the ‘good old days’ we didn’t do it like that. Back in the good old days everything was nearly perfect. Today things are going South all over.”

No, not those people. Those are the squeaky doors of the Church.

No, we need storytellers who declare what they’ve seen the Lord do. When the next generation hears the story of God’s faithfulness it can’t help but think that Almighty God might fire up the old miracle machine again for them, too.

“I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, telling to the generation to come the praises of the Lord, And His strength and His wonderful works that He has done.” (Ps. 78:1-5 NKJV)

It’s a dirt-poor generation which has nothing to say to its young. Why not? Maybe, because it never dared anything or it didn’t recognize what God was doing right in front of its eyes.

One of our pastors often talks about the faith adventures his parents experienced in the Normandy region of France. That makes me hungry to see God do the same thing in our generation.

Start telling your kids about what God has done for you.

I remember that time when I was down to some loose change and God provided through a person who had no idea I was in need.

I remember that time that we started to build a church building with scanty resources. And God came through.

I remember when I wondered if there ever would be a church in the city where we were working. I did a lot of hurting inside there, but today the church not only exists but it thrives.

I remember when I wondered where my kids would go to school in Luxembourg, a country where there are three official languages. God provided and they got a much better education than they probably would have Stateside.

I remember when the dollar sunk so low in Europe that it didn’t seem possible to continue our work here and our work budget sagged under $0. God made a way. We’re still here 25 years later.

I remember how tough it was to let our kids go back to the States while we stayed with our work in Europe. I didn’t ever think I could do that. But, God gave us (and them) what it takes and now our kids are filling the land and multiplying. Nine grandkids! Selah. Stop and think about that.

I remember. Two potent words when we’re telling about God’s faithfulness.

You don’t have any memories like that? Then you maybe you never tried to do much for Him. Most likely you’ve either got your eyes squeezed shut or bracketed on your problems and you’re just not looking.

You’ve probably lived some exciting adventures and didn’t realize it was God helping you. If you don’t have any stories get busy carrying out God’s will and you can still engender some. Caleb was living adventures when he was 85 that made great stories. We still thrill to them today.

We need to be telling stories to the generation behind us. They need to know what God has done so they can dare to do things for our great God.

And tell their children after them.

Do you have any memories of God working in your life? I’ll share them with the other Coffee Stains readers (not too long please).

Hmmm …

A quiet man is a thinking man. A quiet woman is usually mad. (Internet)


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Photo. An Elegant Portrait: A Senegalese Chief with his “Griot” (c.1904) 781. SÉNEGAL – Chef Indigène et son Griot. published by the photographer Edmond Fortier, Dakar.© Casas-Rodríguez Collection, 2008. Some rights reserved


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