Dad would moan, “Well, he’ll surenuff throw one this game.” And ‘surenuff’ he would. When that happened, he would tell me this story.
When we were crossing the Pacific on our way to the Philippines during WW II, Tom Ferguson and me were standing on the ship just talking. And ol’ Tom looked right at me and said, “If anybody makes it home from this war, it’ll be me. You hear that Currie; ain’t nobody gonna kill ol’ Tom Ferguson.”
When they pitched camp in the Philippines, Dad was walking by ol’ Tom’s tent when he heard Tom say, “Hey, Currie, you silly ol’ fool, you wanta piece of coconut?”
“Nah,” Dad answered, “not now.”
But the next thing he heard was ol’ Tom yelling, “Currie, get the medico, get the medico.”Tom had taken his bayonet blade and tried to open a coconut between his legs. The coconut turned, the blade slipped and sliced the artery in his leg; Tom was gone before anyone could do anything. The medical officer couldn’t have saved him even if he had been standing right there.
Then Dad would look right at me and say, “Don’t let me hear you bragging again.”
He made his point. Whenever I bragged, I made sure I didn’t eat any coconuts for a long time. Seriously, that story made an impression on me. (He also told that story if he saw me handling a knife in a careless way).
Stories carry an emotional power, a memory missile that targets our hearts with truth. Too often as parents, we preach at our kids, lecture our kids, even yell at our kids when a story would work much better.
Here are four kinds of stories to keep in mind:
1) Deuteronomy 6:20 encourages us to tell our children our own stories when they ask about why we do certain things. Our children love to hear about our past, our mistakes, and our adventures. Family memories, family characters, all add together to build in them family identity. And they will learn how we came to walk with God. Our stories are big in their eyes.
2) Fictional stories are also helpful. These made-up stories can carry life lessons that help our children learn from “others” without having to go through everything themselves. Aesop’s Fables, Nursery rhymes, biographies, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Book of Virtue, and many others become our allies as we seek to form the character of our children. We can even make up our own stories.
3) Biographies and selected current events can also be resources that are invaluable to our kids.
4) God’s story. The grand scheme of God’s plan: creation, fall, sacrifice, redemption, resurrection, and restoration build a foundation that we want our next generation to have in their hearts. It is His story that lies underneath all the great stories of literature, especially western literature. As parents, we want this story firmly embedded in us so that we can choose wisely the stories we let through the doorways to our homes.