Fiction has been my escape the past few months. I am finding more rest, joy, and truth in these far reaching worlds than I ever have. It is achingly beautiful when we can speak God’s truth to each other using stories, plots, and characters that we can all connect with. It shouldn’t be a surprise, noticing the predominant use of parables in Jesus’ teaching.
I have read three works of fiction lately that have absolutely floored me with God’s grace and beauty. The latest I finished just a few moments ago–a book called Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. It is a retelling of the book of Hosea in the Old Testament. God taught me more about my rebellion and betrayal, and more about His unending, relentless love through this book than I ever thought possible. Isn’t it crazy how a familiar story told a different way can be such a healing and provocative adventure? I think what happens sometimes in christianity-land, at least for me, is that I hear stories so often and for so long that I can eventually build up an emotional resistance to them…just file it away in my brain with the countless other times I’ve read or heard something. The other problem sometimes is just our vast cultural separation from the world of Scripture. Sometimes certain things don’t capture us, or smack us in the face like it would a first-century audience.
Jesus gives us an answer to this problem in His parables. He tells the same timeless stories, the same truths, only with a slightly different setting or characters. This allows us to step outside our world, where we would feel the need to defend our dignity, and make an “objective” decision about the circumstance. We rise indignant about some scandal, only to be smacked in the jaw with the truth that in fact we are the scoundrel in the story…
“A certain man owed his king 10,000 talents, and was graciously forgiven his debt. But when the man went free, he found another servant that owed him 100 denarii, and he began to choke him…”
That is ridiculous! How could anyone ever do that!?
Oh, that’s me…
Or maybe its Nathan, telling David a story about a thief and a murderer that hit a little too close to home.
Lately, for me, it has been hearing the story of a prostitute who is taken from bondage by a lover, who keeps running off only to be pursued again and again, forgiven again and again until a change of heart comes. I have been realizing how far too often I am that whore running off to lovers less wild than Jesus, and learning about the scandalous depths of His grace and faithfulness. I have been punched in the nose and brought to tears by an all too familiar story. These modern day parables prove to be no idol or to take away from Scripture, but rather make me fall in love with the truth of God and His Word all over again, to read the familiar stories with new depths and fervor.
I can say nothing else about this book except to beg you to read it. Find yourself in God’s story, and have the courage to encounter the change and the truth He wants for You. Join me in doing so–I can’t make it alone.