It's funny what you remember from when you were young. Just 37 years ago, my teacher read Stig of the Dump, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to my primary school class. I loved those stories because my teacher brought them to life. I still have vivid memories of Tom Sawyer, and The Naughtiest Girl in the School series by Enid Blyton.
At high school when I was 15, we studied short stories as part of our English curriculum, and two stories really stood out.
The first told the story of a group of scientists who set out to prove that the earth was a living cell, and humans were mere parasites on its surface. They drilled a hole miles down through the earth's "skin" until they penetrated it's "flesh" at which point the earth convulsed violently, and ejected the drill, as a human might when stung by a bee.
The second was about a man who drove up to a car-wash and gave the staff absolute grief about how he wanted his car treated, particularly noting a smudge on one of the headlamps. It went on to describe his horror as the queue of cars progressed out of the car-wash, and his was missing, whereupon he was somehow drawn to the window of the car parts shop next door. There, sitting on display in their murky front window, was a headlamp - and on it was a smudge.
Later in life, I remember laughing at a cartoon of two men carrying a huge book between them, who as they presented it to their pastor, explained it was a biography of his life based on his years of sermon illustrations.
My point is that each story had a point, or a twist or a moral - and I remembered! I love that kind of story. I find it fascinating how in everyday conversation we use adages like A dog in a manger or He just wants his pound of flesh to express our opinion - each phrase based on a story that's been passed down from generation to generation.
It comes as no surprise that Jesus often explained difficult concepts or answered tricky questions with just a simple story - Gotcha! And in my experience, sometimes the best way to accept advice is to hear the story of the adviser. The best part of a funeral is hearing the stories you've never heard before...
When my own kids were young, we used to play a game at bedtime where I'd get them to think of a number between one and my age at the time, and I'd tell them a story about something that happened in my life that year.
My hope is that they'll learn from my mistakes and they'll improve on my successes. But most of all, I want them to remember that I loved them enough to share myself, and that I took the time...