February 9, 2020
I’ve often wondered, since I got grown, if my Granddaddy Jay ever got tired of his six grandchildren saying, “Tell us a story, Granddaddy!” Not only do I think it didn’t bother him to stop whatever he was doing to tell us a story, but that it was one of the joys of his life.
When granddaddy’s six grandchildren were young back in the 1950’s, we didn’t have a TV at Granddaddy’s house. We six grandchildren would stay with Granddaddy and Grandmother while our mothers worked at a factory in a nearby town.
So, for entertainment, we were told stories. When the weather was nice, we would play outside a lot. But there was nothing like Granddaddy’s storytelling. He was very good at telling stories. Sometimes we would tell him which story we wanted to hear. And even though we may have heard it many times previously, it would always excite us to hear it again.
Granddaddy could not read or write. He had to start working in the fields when he was just six years old to help support his family. So, Granddaddy couldn’t read to us from a story book – even if we had one. Granddaddy just made up the stories. I wouldn’t take a million dollars for those memories.
I guess it was Granddaddy’s storytelling ability that made me a storyteller too. Later when I went into the ministry at 19 years of age, I learned that storytelling was a wonderful way not only to teach a lesson about something, but also a great way to help people remember the lesson.
I’ll never forget about twenty years ago I was pastoring a church that was a part of five other churches that went together during the Lenten season to have worship services together all the way up until Easter. We would take turns each Sunday holding the service at one of the churches. The building was always packed. After the worship service there was always a big meal provided by the host church.
One particular year, when it was my turn to do the preaching, I told a very interesting story in my sermon. I won’t preach the sermon, but the object was about forgiveness. I told a story that was similar to the story of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. But my story was about a real life person I knew 20 years earlier, and his son. I told a lot of detail in the story.
About seven or eight years later, when I was no longer pastoring in that church, I met a man who was at that church service I just mentioned above, in a hardware store. I didn’t know him (or remember him). I noticed it seemed like he kept staring at me. Then he came up to me and asked me if I was Rev. Plumley. I told him I was. He said, “You probably don’t remember me, but I heard you preach the Easter Sunday night service at [name of church] about eight years ago. You told a story about a daddy and his son, and I’ll never forget that story. It literally changed my life.”
Stories can do that. I loved telling my children stories when they were youngsters. One night after I put Spencer and John Paul to bed, they asked me to tell them a story about when I was younger. I saw a good opportunity to teach a lesson.
I told them I wanted to tell them a story about me and Smoothmouth going on a bear hunt. Actually it was a retelling of one of Granddaddy Jay’s bear stories, with the exception of the character of Smoothmouth.
I told the story and then happened just what I wanted to happen. Spencer asked me, “Daddy, why was your friend named Smoothmouth?”
I said, “Well, son, you won’t believe this, but he was called that because he didn’t have any teeth.”. Spencer asked, “How come he didn’t have any teeth?”
I said, “Well, when he was a little boy, he wouldn’t brush his teeth, and they all rotted out. He would go to bed at night and instead of brushing his teeth he would just wet his toothbrush in case his mother or daddy checked to see whether he was brushing his teeth.”
Well, I kissed the boys goodnight and went on to bed myself at the other end of the house. About thirty minutes later, I heard Spencer get out of his bed and go to the bathroom down on the end of the house where the children slept. He brushed his teeth for about ten full minutes. I never had to scold him about not brushing his teeth again.
Jesus was the greatest teacher of truth there has ever been. He often used stories (parables) to illustrate his lessons. Nearly everyone can tell you the great parables of the Bible. They may not know just where they are located, but they know the story and what it taught.
I would encourage everyone to become a storyteller, either to your children or grandchildren. Perhaps a good story can change their lives forever.
God Bless You,