Mole, the endearing character in the The Wind in The Willows, discovers something completely new to him—a river. Kenneth Graham’s description of this glorious encounter takes me along to see the river for the first time: “this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh….” I, like Mole, am “bewitched, entranced, fascinated,” left in awe of the creator of Mole and the river, and in awe of the Creator of the creator.
Characters like Mole and tales like Graham’s have affected me, and their stories have been part of forming me into Jonathan and have inspired me to pursue Jesus. Maybe this is because story is something intuitive to the soul? Or is it something tied into how we have been wonderfully made, with an ability to embrace and ponder the lives and experiences of other created beings?
I remember as I role played with my thumbs the digital stories of Mario Bros that my dad was reading books behind me with the sunlight pouring in. I tried to read them later and was captivated by the few words I could understand. Since then I have loved stories in any form, and I am realizing afresh that Jesus has been teaching me through characters in stories over the years.
Stories convey an enjoyable, digestible, captivating message that takes us deeper. Even before I let Jesus’ story interweave with my own, I already knew Aslan and Edmund from The Chronicles of Narnia. No one explained to me how those potent characters were related to me, but when my friend Jared shared Jesus’ story with me, I felt that the story was somehow familiar, and I was ready to hear even ready to embrace the cost of responding to that story—the awkward, unsure moments at 14 years old telling my secular world, my family and friends that I believed in Jesus’ story.
I have a bunch of friends who are not sure if this Story is for them, and some other friends who once were into this Story but now only see the religion that has hurt them. Recently, the story (not the theology or the doctrine, but the story) of the Bible has been catching my heart and mind, deepening my understanding of Jesus and my love for Him. And, as Jesus’ story catches me again and again, correcting me, lifting me up and guiding me along, I am hoping that my friends, too, will see Jesus’ story like Mole saw the river—full of “glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble.”
Pete Tegeler’s article inspired my thoughts, helping me see afresh that analytic, systematic theological study alone (which I have spent years doing ) would be to miss out on what cultures throughout the earth have always known—that stories are powerful. Check out Pete’s article: “How Hobbits, Narnians, & Harry Potter Saved Me From Seminary”