I love a good story. My beginning as a writer started with me writing down the stories that I would create. It’s always been a favorite pastime to lose myself in a really good story. I think everyone yearns for this a little bit. It’s why a good book or movie or tv show will draw us in.
I think this is one of the reasons why God chose to reveal Himself in stories. Even though the Bible is full of real accounts of real people, they are still sometimes told in narrative format.
My favorite stories are always changing, usually based on what attribute of God I need that day. However, I do have a few steady candidates that hold special places in my heart. Here are just a few of the ones that I wanted to share today:
1.) The Seven Sons of Sceva, Acts 19:11-20 – Never heard of this one? Well, you’re probably not alone and it probably won’t make many people’s lists of top bible stories, but it’s a notable one in our house. When my son was little and adults at church asked for the kids favorite bible stories, most children would say Noah or Jonah, but not our little one. No, he preferred this exorcism-laced story from Acts. To paraphrase the story, there were 7 sons of a high priest named Sceva who were casting out demons. Unfortunately, one day they happen upon a demon that talks back. After they command the demon out “in the name of Jesus whom Paul preaches,” the demon replied, “Jesus I know and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” Then the demon leaps on them and bad things happen. Not exactly a heart-warming children’s tale, but I think the combination of the strong admonition of not invoking the Lord’s name in vain and the Hubs using his vocal skills made it a favorite for our little guy.
2.) Mary Anoints Jesus, John 12:1-8 – This is a favorite among many. There are songs and stories about it. There may even be a movie about it. I haven’t felt a particular affinity for it until my pastor recently preached from this text last Sunday leading into Holy Week. Though other gospels tell the story, too; this one is especially sweet to me. Pastor spoke on the different types of worship (there are 4 in this passage). But I love the beauty that is shown in Mary’s worship as she smashes the bottle containing the most expensive, important thing she owns and pours it onto our Lord, wiping the excess with her hair. I cannot imagine this scene and do it justice, but when I think on it, I am greatly moved by this act and can only hope that I am following in this example.
3.) The Commander of the Lord’s Army, Joshua 5:13-15 – It’s a short story, just a few verses, really. But it is one that I have come back to time and again. Joshua has just led the people into Canaan. They have just been circumcised and observed the first Passover in Canaan. They were about to take Jericho when Joshua sees someone with his sword drawn. We don’t know if Joshua was scared, but we do know he was bold as he asks, “Are you for us, or for our enemies?” And I LOVE the answer. The commander simply says, “No.” The commander was for the Lord. Shouldn’t that be our answer for everything? What is your opinion on this hot-button political issue? No, I’m for the Lord. What is your opinion on this divisive cultural issue? No, I’m for the Lord. Is the dress blue and black or white and gold? No. No. No.
4.) Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel 3:8-30 – This is another common Sunday School story of standing up against idolatry, right? If you’re into the VeggieTales version, it’s about standing up against the Bunny. And I do love this aspect of it. We live in a world of idols; indeed, John Calvin said that our very hearts are idol factories. However, there’s a little piece to this story that is often overlooked. Specifically verses 16-18. Nebuchadnezzar has just asked the young men about their failure to bow down and worship. Then they answer. “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” (Italics added) They are facing a king (little ‘k’) and they flat out tell him that they don’t have to answer. Furthermore, the King they do serve, well, He is able, but that’s not what’s important. No, what is important to them is that they are going to serve Him regardless. Whew! It doesn’t get much better than that.
5.) Jesus, the WHOLE of Scripture – You can call this a copout, but I can’t help it. It’s something I’m learning, even more, every day. There is not one single part of this entire work where I can’t see Jesus. How amazing is that? How amazing is our God? I love the fact that He asks us to meet Him and learn about Him in this way. Jesus called His followers disciples, students, and gave us a book to learn about Him. For a book nut, life-long learner, and word nerd like me, that is the most awesome thing ever! If we don’t look at the Bible as a whole, then we will often miss things like this. And that would be a real tragedy.
So, what about you? What is God showing you through Scripture? Don’t forget to head over to Mrs. Disciple to check out what others are sharing as their favorite bible stories/characters.