Have you ever made a heart wish and then suddenly realized it came true? Over a year ago, the children’s pastor of Westside Church invited me to come and story (tell in my own words) the entire Bible to the children’s leadership team. I remembered that I prayed a year before, “LORD, will You teach me how to tell the whole Bible in one story in a short period of time?” Suddenly, the reality of my heart dream came true, but I had no clue how I might do it. I researched to see if there were recordings that I might listen to as I prepared, but I never seemed to get beyond the wish part and research stage.
This request challenged me because it required for me to reflect upon what I truly knew in the Word of God! Since a good story must be internalized in order to be told well, I had to move beyond facts and figures and really seek to capture the heart of God’s plan. I must confess that my anxiety level shot through the roof. I have not been so anxious since college. It wasn’t that I was nervous about the people, it was more that I was anxious that I could not or would not do it right. What if I messed up? What if I say the wrong “J” guy as I talk through the patriarchs? The tension in me was so tight I actually found it difficult to breathe.
This physical response took me by surprise. I always have a sense of accountability and responsibility when I teach or speak, but for some reason this time my heightened senses were overwhelming me. As I walked up to tell, complete peace fell upon me and I became the story. The words flowed out of me as if it was the most natural thing to do. When I was finished telling, I felt as if I had just accomplished the most important thing I have ever done. To the degree that my anxiety went down, my feeling of accomplishment and honoring God shot up. I left thinking; I need to tell the whole world what I just did! I have internalized the Word of God! I know the big picture and can communicate it!
What is the big deal? Why all this talk about internalization? Did you know that 70% of the world’s population is an oral learner? This means that they learn best when they hear a truth rather than read it. Oral learners grasp concepts and internalize them when it is told in a story. A story provides a mental map that is easier to follow than a list for rote memorization. In Christian circles, we do well by sharing our personal stories, but what of the Bible? If we only use a verse here and there, the listener will not get the big picture within the context. If we only tell our stories, we must ask am I really communicating the gospel? Our stories will open the door for people to draw near to God, but it is by the hearing of God’s Word that lives are changed. We have a responsibility to communicate God’s Word to those we encounter. When we tell the story that surrounds the context of a verse we are using then the big picture will be grasped because we have provided a mental map for the person to follow.
Did you know that about 70-75% of the Bible is in narrative? Isn’t it interesting that 70% of the world prefers narrative style teaching! God knows that people love a good story. The Bible is filled with adventure, romance, intrigue, murder, mystery, and even good poetry. Yet, the power that comes with the promise that the Word of God will not return void can only happen if it is heard.
Learning how to story the Bible challenged me to internalize the Bible and not just acquire knowledge. It wasn’t easy. I formed an outline of Bible characters to help me because I am both a visual and oral learner. I am now able to see the mental map in my mind’s eye and this has provided me greater insight into Bible passages.
Since, the first time I told the whole counsel of the Word of God at Westside Church, the LORD has opened the door for me to tell the Bible in two different states, in more than ten different settings which include hospitals, churches, schools, and retreats. I have been surprised in each setting by the different truths that people came up to tell me God used to minister, convict, or compel them as they listened to HIStory unfold.
The beauty of a story told well is that it connects to the soul and speaks to the heart based on personal life needs, wants, desires, and circumstances. It reaches into the internal places for eternal results.
Can you say that you have internalized the Bible story as a whole? Can you tell it to another? Why not give it a try! I did!
For more on how to internalize the Bible through Bible Storying: