by guest author Mark Hamby of Lamplighter
In the beginning, God (Gen. 1:1 ESV). In the beginning, God created His story. God is at the beginning of — and throughout — every life story. Where there is story, there is God, and His stories are never ordinary. His stories are filled with the unknown, unexpected, and unexplainable.
It is the mechanism of story that God uses to teach us about His plan, promises, and redeeming power. He stirs our souls through the stories of men, women, and children who,
Through faith, subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again; and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:33-35 KJV).
Worthy stories will always awaken a desire within us. They teach us to long for something better, something beautiful, something whole; something that fills the longing of our souls — the desires of our hearts.
J. R. R. Tolkien taught that stories need not be concerned with possibilities, but desirability. A great book takes you on a journey — a vicarious journey with the characters of the story that creates a continuous examination of our character, faith, and future. A worthy story fans the flames of divine desire in our souls, breathing life into our imagination, creating wonder, motivation, and action. Stories without the divine spark, fan the flames of fleshly desires that steal your time and your senses. Neil Postman said it well when he wrote that people today are, “amusing themselves to death.”
|Definition: amuse – not to think “a – negative particle, not.” “muse – to think, wonder.”|
How then can we, as parents, know when a story is merely amusing our children? As I share in the introduction of our Lamplighter catalog, the answer is found in Ecclesiastes 12:9-12a, which says,
Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth. The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these (ESV).
The Preacher’s collection are words of delight, words of truth, and words of wisdom, providing the primary, objective boundaries for stories. “Anything beyond these” we are to beware; not for the purpose of restriction but for restoration!
Stories that remain within the boundaries of delight, truth, and wisdom train our children to discern between good and evil. When we train our children’s spiritual muscle of discernment, they will learn how to distinguish between the biblical and secular worldviews of any author. Most importantly, they will gain confidence in their discernment processes as they form a solid conviction that:
- God is good.
- God works all things together for good.
- God keeps his promises.
- God allows suffering to grow our character so that we might experience His love.
For a glimpse of inspiring storytelling that cultivates these foundational truths, you will want to dive into Lamplighter Publishing’s “Classic Collection” of literature, where stories such as Sir Knight of the Splendid Way, Palace of Deceit, and The Lamplighter are all designed to train the powers of discernment to distinguish between good and evil.
If only I knew then what I know now … all the books that I could have read to my children! Moms and dads, my company can provide you with some of the most powerfully life-changing stories that I have ever read. Enjoy reading, and may you and your children be forever changed.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5
Editor’s Note: Lamplighter Publishing is an exhibitor at the upcoming Rocky Mountain Homeschool Conference, June 16-18, 2022. Check out their booth to learn more about Lamplighter and Mark Hamby!