For some stories once is enough. For others we keep coming back. I know my daughters must have read or watched Anne of Green Gables a dozen times. As a child Sarah did the same with Gone With the Wind. While I didn’t re-read stories, I read all of the Civil War books I could get my hands on – and amazingly the story turned out the same every time!
Something more is happening with our “returning stories” than merely hearing again. We already know the story, so it’s not about suspense. Rather, our encounter becomes a dialogue, a way to live into that place and time, and to bring that place and time into our own stories. Even as our own stories are still being written, the characters of these favorite stories become our companions and foils.
I’m always struck by the eagerness with which people receive the Christmas and Easter stories. People in those jam-packed worship services listen so intently as the story is read. And it’s not as if there is any doubt about how the story will turn out! Yet we come to hear again, and we leave satisfied.
While there are many fine stories worthy of repeated readings, God’s story above all others has the capacity to enter our own story with comment, encouragement, direction, and truth. We come to God’s story in the scripture again and again, not because we don’t know how his story turns out, but because we don’t know how our story turns out. Our hope is that if he can tell the scripture story like that, then he can make our story a prize winner too. And so he does, making us a part of the greatest story ever told!