Some stories have a longer shelf life than others. I don’t mean that some books collect dust, while others are read, though that’s a related topic, I mean that some stories will stand the test of time and over several years, those stories shape us. And over time, those stories become our worldview.
Test this theory out a bit. Whether or not you’ve set foot in a church, you can probably tell me the Christmas story concerning Jesus, Good Samaritan, and at least parts of the Prodigal Son and Easter. Now, contrast those stories with anything on the NY Times bestselling fiction list for the past decade. Compare them with news reports.
In other words, some stories have a shelf life; others do not. Some stories stay relevant; others fade away. What stories, then, are you reading or writing that may stick around a while? What news reports echo and reverberate in your mind?
I remember reading The Hound of the Baskervilles a captivating Sherlock Holmes mystery. I recall reading it in my childhood home which was located 2.5 miles out of town on a 7 acre plot of farmland, where we had race horses and a dog. I read the book while sitting on my bed next to the second story window overlooking the driveway. Sometimes the wind would cause the tree branches to wave across my wall, scaring me out of my mind. I remember Sherlock Holmes following the clues and I remember how he seemed to notice everything, observe details, connect the dots.
I remember also stories my grandfather told me of working on the railroad, Lou Gherig and the legendary New York Yankees teams. I remember other books from middle school like Orwell’s Animal Farm, Watership Down by Adams, and Across Five Aprils, a novel set during the Civil War. My memory is, if you think about it, the repository of stories that have shelf life.
This is why stories are so important….Our memory is the compilation of the most powerful stories in our lives and our worldview reflects how deeply the characters, plot, narrative, truths, and details of the stories have integrated in to the fabric of our being. Faith, after all, isn’t simply trust, it’s also the engagement of our imagination with something that shapes us, touching our minds and hearts. If you sometimes wonder what you truly believe, start with rechecking the stories that have a long shelf life in your experience. Start there and see where God takes you next.