Platform: The Power of Stories
By Barry Bruce
My mukluks thumped the wall. “We can fly, we can fly!” shouted Mom. All at once a metallic thread from my mukluk found its way into the electrical outlet. Zap! A flash of light and smoke. Mom paused to make sure I was all right, and then we all laughed. We were transformed, and for a moment it seemed I really could fly! We gathered around Mom on the living room floor. It was story time. I laid my four-year-old self down, eager to listen, my feet wrapped in my new metallic-threaded mukluks, which I kicked against the wall in anticipation. My big brother, little sister, and I hung on every word as Mom read. We were transported by her shouts, whispers, and bouts of laughter. Peter Pan had just flown in the window; Wendy and her brothers were on the edge of an adventure—and so were we!
Great storytellers transform us, and there is no greater storyteller than Jesus—his words so much more than entertainment, his parables continuing to transform lives today. As a minister for over 30 years in the inner-city I have seen many such transformations.
My own life was transformed 33 years ago when I first read Jesus’ foretelling of the destruction of the temple; the parables he told of the 10 virgins and the sheep and the goats. Those stories made me ponder the reality of a Creator and his return, the brevity of life, and what my purpose might be. Jesus’ story of the Good Shepherd in John 10:1-18 made me realize his love for a “lost sheep” and a “lost son.” Luke 15:4-32 made me realize that I could be forgiven of my sin and be welcomed home by him.
Stories like these have become the cherished resting place of my life. I eagerly lie at Jesus’ feet to hear them again and again. I am transported by his words, and transformed by the renewing work that they perform in my mind.
The day of Pentecost has come, and all the disciples are gathered together in one place. Peter and the others are on the edge of an adventure—and so are we!
Barry Bruce is executive director and cofounder with his wife, Terryl, of The Way Out Ministries (RCA), a non-profit, inner-city ministry in the Los Angeles County city of Hawaiian Gardens. Platform gives RCA members a chance to share their opinions.