Escaping with Good Stories

“In a far-off forest, there was a lovely princess, who lived happily ever after .…”

One of the luxuries the 2020 quarantine brought me was to dive nose-first into books, lingering in bed in the morning or lounging on a couch midday. The extra time allowed me to read multiple chapters at a time, which felt indulgent compared to skimming a chapter as I waited between kid activities. As friends took Master Courses online, I look back and realize I created my own curriculum of American civil rights migration and current-day immigration, to hospitality and community building, compassion for when life ends too early, even historical fiction around my passion for fashion.

As the pages of any book flip, readers are introduced to the hero and villain, with their conflict unfolding as cliffhangers prompt us to read just one more chapter before bed. From the classics to the current day New York Times Best Sellers, most of the greatest stories have an invisible, almost magical draw to them: an underdog prevailing, rescue provided by a rich benefactor, being at the right place at the right time, time travel, even divine intervention. They provide hope, something we all could use more of now. And, even if the protagonist and the antagonist’s conflict results in a “what not to do” there is a moral type lesson being shared at the end.

Well-written stories allow us to escape into another world, another era, even explore unknown interests. Books can prompt new ideas and empathy to our real-life situations and, more often than not, bring enjoyment and laughter. Reading is a form of escape-ism I encourage my family and friends to take regularly.

If it ever feels like “I’ve heard this story before,” it’s because there are only a handful of plots. It’s how the author masterfully spins the words and creates the scenes that make them memorable, and keeps them on our Most Read (and most-watched) lists, such as:

•          Our muscles ache for the Karate Kid as he “wax-on and wax-off” Mr. Miyagi’s deck, and we cheer for this underdog as he has the discipline to beat the popular jock/bully in the tournament.

•          At any moment, we can transport ourselves to the fantasy world of Narnia, by envisioning the secret wardrobe passage, the magical beasts, almost tasting the Turkish delight, and our heart lightens when we get a glimpse of Aslan as he defends the land from evil.

•          Our heart races while watching the injustice of the falsely accused. It also celebrates scenes like those in The Shawshank Redemption, as Andy Dufresne masterfully escapes prison, brings justice to the crooked warden, and heads off to freedom with a new identity, polished shoes, and bank accounts of cash.

Not one of these storylines is new. All are found in the Bible.

However, of all of the great stories I’ve read, it’s God’s Love Story that I am drawn to most. We are living in such a controversial time of racism, politics, a pandemic virus, loneliness, gender uncertainty, the list goes on and on… and even these topics aren’t new. They too are present in the Bible. I’m drawn to LOVE because don’t we all desire some unconditional goodness, less conflict, and more joy? And when times get complicated and difficult, I can read story after story of my never-changing God (Malachi 3:6, Isaiah 40:8, Hebrews 6:18). How He is my Lord and King (Revelation 1:8). How I am the beloved daughter, His princess, even when my life doesn’t feel like a fairy tale (1 John 4:19, Zephaniah 3:17, Isaiah 43:1b).

From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is a love story of God in relationship with mankind. It begins with the creation of humans and ends with Jesus’ victory over the fallen angel, Satan. In between, we read about how generations before us acted just like us, highlighting how all of us need God’s redemption and restoration from our mistakes. God’s Love story is about His love for every single one of us, how in His pursuit of us, He forgives us, and champions us. And He gives the greatest sacrifice a parent could give, the life of His only child. Please do not gloss over how God’s sacrificial love can provide you everlasting life. Or said another way, the true gift of living happily ever after.

We are all unworthy, and yet God loves us beyond measure (Ephesians 3:16-19).

The Bible awakens everything in your heart and soul. Do you desire that?  As the school year is kicking off, regardless if you are a college student, parent, or grandparent, isn’t this a good time to reconsider what you are watching and reading? What we consume is more than the food and drink we put in our bodies, it’s also the thoughts we put in our heads. Your body runs better on healthy proteins and vegetables, and your mind functions better with the GOOD WORDS of God’s truth.

Do you consume junk words?

I challenge you. Go escape into another world, one of ancient wonders and beauty. Wondering where to start? Click on some original storylines below.

Please Pray with me: Thank you for being a God who is always constant and true. In a world where I cannot always believe what is reported, I know Your Word is the Truth. It is alive and always relevant to everything going on in my life. Why am I surprised that You provide the perfect words popping off the pages when I need them most? Please pull me deeper into Your scripture daily, so I can be more of the princess You created me to be. Amen.

•          Underdog Sheppard boy David defeating the giant Goliath (1 Samuel 17)

•          Faithful Daniel interpreting dreams (Daniel)

•          Family tension and calculated mother leads to a change in birth order and inheritance for Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25-27)

•          Teenage Pregnancy of Virgin Mary and our Redeemer (Luke 1 – Luke 2:24)

•          Even in our final moments, some will be blind to God, like a criminal at Calvary (Luke 23:39-43)

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