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Melissa Miller's picture

The Power of Story

            Bare Feet. Playskool Tricycles. When the two come together in a church nursery, there is much pain!
            This time, I was smart enough to see the impending peril. Adam (not his real name) was not. A typical toddler, he had flaunted his independence by removing his socks and shoes to celebrate barefooted freedom!
            But I had the audacity to gather his footwear and propose re-shoding his feet. I then picked up the protesting tyke and set him on my lap. A defiant glare was in his eyes as he protested, loudly. “I don’t want my shoes!”
            “Well, have you asked your shoes if they want to be on your feet?” I replied.

            This question was unprecedented. He stared at me in surprise as I plopped his bottom on one knee, balanced his shoes on my other knee, and selected one of his socks. Picking it up, I addressed it: “Now, Mr. Sock, you must slip on his foot.”
            “But I don’t want to!” I narrated in a slightly more high-pitched tone, voicing the sock’s protestations. A few more minutes ensued as the sock and I eventually compromised---he would return to a foot, but only if his “brother” did as well.
            By now, several preschoolers were watching the scene, fascinated. This only encouraged me. Encouraging me in this fashion can be dangerous. One of them handed me the other sock to see what would happen next. The other sock campaigned to save his brother before surrendering and submitting to be pulled over the other foot. A shoe was thrust in my hand, and then its mate. In a matter of minutes, a temper tantrum had been defused and forgotten; the Certain Disaster of Smashed Toes had been averted; and most of the kids in the room had been gleefully entertained, forgetting (for 2.75 seconds) their squabbles over toys.
            I wonder if the scene was similar to the one Nathan the prophet experienced when he confronted David in 1 Samuel 12 about his adultery. All eyes in the room locked onto the prophet of God from the moment he made his presence known. Perhaps some in the room expected a loud confrontation or a verbal butting of heads. Perhaps some were anticipating that David would retaliate against the prophet (as other Ancient Near Eastern kings were wont to do when a prophet or other individual dared to speak of their sins or attempt to check their power and authority to do as they willed). Instead, Nathan disarmed the potential conflict when he began telling a story. Then, as now, people loved telling stories. Stories are an effective tool to get around proud or defensive hearts, when told well and with good timing. I hadn’t planned on telling a story that day, but I noticed a change in the children. For that day, at least, no one else “liberated” their feet. If a simple, silly story can affect that change, than surely we ought to be affecting change when we relay biblical truth to children.

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