One of my joys relates to teaching; it relates to being able to read students’ personal stories. As you would expect, crossing my screen come some stories that make me sad. For example, not long ago I got an emailed “story” that was only briefly presented. The student wanted me to know of her suddenly scheduled flight to be with her sister, with whom she was very close. The sister’s first child, with no suspicion of medical problems and no warning being possible, was born, but as a still born. It happened in the last month of pregnancy.
Of course, I wrote back to the student saying that her arrangements for the course responsibilities were fine, and that we would make the necessary adjustments. But, the story gave me shivers, especially as I fleshed out the emotional charge this young couple was facing.
Joyce and I never had a still born infant, only one very early miscarriage in our first year of marriage. On the other hand, I am thinking of a couple that I know well, whose wife had several miscarriages, each one of them bringing deep sadness to the parents.
Stories. They can touch our souls because we feel a degree of solidarity with the people in the story. Or, perhaps the stories resonate with us because of our having had a similar experience. We actually “feel” some pain in a way comparable to the pain we have when we break a bone or have a severe stomach ache. Perhaps, the story get’s our heart racing with thrilling joy. Stories can do that to us.
With those thoughts coursing through my mind and imaginations, I heard a fellow at church last Sunday tell a story of a person being spiritually turned around. The happiness in the story teller’s voice and on his face was contagious. We can refer to the story as being that of person beginning a new life, one of forgiveness experienced, and forgiveness granted. However we sum it up, at this point, does not matter.
As he told the story, I actually “felt” the story’s impact. I felt it as my throat tightened. To say that I was a blessed person to be there at that time and place to hear the story is an understatement. And, that is when “it” came to me like I never remember happening before.
Yes, I have heard the yawning comments about how boring heaven is going to be, just being on a celestial vacation in a glorified Disney World where everything is so perfectly in order that the “ordinary” person will become bored after having another 72 degree day with never a hint of inclement weather, where eventually we will become so “at home” with the gold streets that we won’t even realize that there are no pot-holes from frozen water that send us to Midas for a front end alignment to stop the shuddering wheels.
Yes, people, like Nietzsche, may refer to heaven as a wish projection, or as a sop extended to those that are exploited by the followers of a particular religion, a sop that will keep them from revolting while suffering in their servitude on this earth.
But, this isn’t the time or place to apologetically analyze “the death of God” philosophy of Frederich Nietzsche. Rather, my mind is taken back to the stories, and their role in heaven. Can you imagine the thrill rising in us as we hear the stories of those who have been redeemed? Who will get bored? Who will get complacent as the magnificence of God is revealed freshly with each story of redemption?
Stories. Thank God for stories. Thank you, Jesus, for using stories to tell us The Story of God’s loving rescue operation. Enjoy C S Lewis closing to “Farewell to Shadowlands” , (chapter 16) in The Last Battle:
“The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.” And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all stories, and we can most truly say they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”