I think stories are one of the best ways to communicate life lessons. Cold, hard logic speaks to our sense of reason, but stories engage us at a heart level. Reason may give us the “why” for something, but the heart gives us our “want to.”
It’s why Jesus often communicated through stories. “Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Matthew 13:34). Stories hold our attention, and they help us remember the point the story makes.
Stories even help the “pill of truth” go down just a bit easier. C.S. Lewis once wondered why it was often so hard to embrace truth. His answer was that “one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings.” His solution?
Supposing that by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday School associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency. Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.”
One of the best story tellers I know is Rob Parsons, the founder and chairman of Care for the Family in Great Britain, and my good friend for over 25 years. What I love best about Rob’s stories is they instruct without teaching. In other words, his stories illustrate on their own the very point he’s trying to make.
You’ll hear what I mean over the next two programs as Rob recounts stories that illustrate what he calls “lessons of life I wish I’d learned earlier.”
Like this one.
It’s the story of a Mexican fisherman who brought the day’s catch into the small Mexican coastal fishing village where he lived. There on shore waiting for him was a businessman who complimented the fisherman on the size of his catch – two big yellowfin tuna. “How long have you been fishing?” he asked.
“I only fish for half the day, Señor,” the fisherman answered.
“What do you do with the rest of your time?” asked the businessman.
“In the afternoon, I have a siesta with my wife, Maria. Then I play with my kids in the evening and play guitar with my amigos.”
The businessman said, “I can help you expand your business. First, you must work all day. We’ll use the extra money to buy another boat, which will help you to catch more fish and, soon, you’ll have a fleet of boats. Then we’ll buy you a cannery and a distribution business. Of course, you’ll eventually have to leave this small Mexican coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City and, finally, New York City, where you will run your expanding empire.”
“How long will all of this take?” the fisherman asked.
“About 25 or 30 years.”
“Then what?” the fisherman asked.
“Then you’ll sell your shares of the company and make millions.”
“Well, then you can retire and move to a small Mexican coastal fishing village and look up your kids. If any of your friends are still alive, you can play guitars with them in the evenings and spend time with your wife.”
We easily get caught in the rat-race of life, trying to earn more, so we can spend time with our family “someday.” Many people spend a lifetime committed to that chase, never understanding that all of those “somedays” are passing them by each and every day.
I hope you’ll join us for the next couple of programs with Rob. He visited Focus last year, and we recorded the talk he gave at a couples’ retreat. Through his stories, he shared about raising children, the blessings of unconditional love, and other helpful life lessons.
I think you’ll enjoy Rob’s presentation and learn some great principles along the way.
One last note: Last summer, we aired a powerful message from Rob aimed at parents of prodigal children. It was so helpful and meaningful to so many of you, for the next 30 days we’ll make that program available for free online at focusonthefamily.com/radio