Tuesday, November 24, 2009
"Tell us a story, Mommy!" she begs. "Yeah -- about when you were a little girl," her sister chimes in. "A story, huh?" I lie down next to my girls. They eagerly huddle together in their nightgowns just as my sister and I huddled once upon a time on the very same Strawberry Shortcake pillowcases. "About camp." They qualify the request. My mind begins to zip around, searching for a memory on my brain's fading microfiche sheets.
Ah -- here's one. And I begin, focusing on a favorite camp experience: horseback riding lessons. I am eager to wax eloquent. I have been saving the horse stories for a special night. The girls, ever fond of horses (all girls go through a horse phase, don't they?), give my choice their hearty approval.
Not far into the story, however, the questions bubble to the surface. "What color was your horse?" I scan the file and answer. "Did you trot? Did you gallop?" they continue. I squeeze in a few more words, they force in even more. "Trotting is fun," she interjects. "I had to learn the parts of the saddle at my lesson," the child goes on. "How much did it hurt when the horse stepped on that girl's foot?" is sister's redundant concern. "This much?" she spreads out her hands.
I try to find my place in the story again. After a sentence (or was it half a sentence?), I receive further comments and questions, now straying in all sorts of directions. We are clearly getting nowhere in this story. I quickly decide to pull together my thoughts and end the tale with a sappy, sweeping finale in which I "trotted happily back to the barn and couldn't wait for a new day of lessons to begin. The End."
I kiss my satisfied audience goodnight and smile at their interpretation of a "story." It was really more like a conversation. Delightful in its own way, but it got me thinking . . . .
I'm so like my girls. I crawl up into the Lord's lap and beg, with wide eyes, "Tell me a story!" He smiles warmly, eagerly, and prepares to weave an intricate tale. Not only do I get to be in the story (another dream of every girl?), but I get to be the daughter of the King. He opens the Book, and His rich voice draws me in. "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth -- "
Suddenly, I interrupt.
"But what about . . . ?" I interject, afraid that He's missed something. Then I briefly calm down. "Okay -- what happens next?" I'm ready for more story now. "But wait, Lord, it was supposed to be like this . . . ." And I continue to babble until pretty soon I'm the one doing most of the talking.
Now wait a minute. Who's telling the story here? Would I presume to edit the story of the Master storyteller? It sounds ludicrous. But I do it anyway. It's habitual. I interject my fears, my concerns, my preferences, until sadly, I can hear only myself.
Oh how much richer my story would be if I handed it over to my Creator! He knows the beginning, the middle and the end. His word choice is perfect. His plot, setting and characters? Inspired. What about conflict? He's got the resolution all taken care of. There is simply no need for me to barge in and force words into His masterpiece. It's counterproductive and shows a great lack of faith.
And so I ask the Lord to whisper to me in tones that I can hear and understand. To remind me when I speak too much or fuss too often. To comfort me with the words He's brought to my heart so many times: Be still and know that I am God. For when I am still, I get to listen. I get to listen to the world's most captivating storyteller, knowing that my name is boldly written in His matchless book.