Such large crowds gathered around Him that He got into a boat and sat down, while the whole crowd stood on the shore. Then He told them many things in parables…
Two years ago, my husband said, "What would you like to do for yourself that you’ve never taken time to do?”
I replied, "I’ve always wanted to go to the International Storytellers Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee."
He said, "Do it!"
Thus, I ventured into the world of storytelling. I think I’ve always been a natural storyteller. But to go to a convention with seasoned professional storytellers, who could captivate a crowd and hold them spellbound with their words, was a revival of a different kind for this dramatic spirit.
It took me days to recover from what I’d heard. The diversity of skill sets of these “tellers” was mind boggling to me. Some tellers shared their life experiences, while others could make even the most mundane story of daily drudgery seem interesting and even amusing.
There was vocal diversity as some would enthusiastically yell their bigger than life stories, while other voices needed merely to whisper their merger of words, weaving ever poetic and rhythmic. It was a heavenly, almost sacred experience to witness such talent and gifting.
Jesus understood the power of a good story. He knew that people would often remember a story better than collective words alone. However, a professional meeting planner once told me, “People's ability to hear the Speaker can be hindered by their inability see the Speaker.”
Jesus arrived at the lake, surrounded by a huge crowd. He knew by instinct (not the professional meeting planner's counsel) what to do to get the crowd's attention. By floating to the middle of the lake, the water would become a soundboard so all might hear. Also His positioning there gave good visual sight lines to all those present. He knew just where to be and what to do to benefit the listener. Then the stories began.
As you ponder this scenario, a story comes to mind from my own experience. I was the speaker for an evening in a gymnasium packed with 400 women. The setting already rivaled a nightmare, as high ceilings reverberated sound, modified air-conditioning units blared, dishes clanked, and voices competed for air time.
My ears began to hurt. I sat in my seat praying, “Lord, these women will never hear a word I say. Please do something!”
In the midst of singing my first number, the electricity went off! The room went dark and the roar of competitive noise came to a halt. In the stillness of the moment, a man's voice boomed, "There’s been an accident. The power will be out for at least an hour.”
A lady stood and started gathering the votive candles from the tables and placing them at my feet. The candles gave enough light for me to be seen. And the sound? In that moment, I realized my prayers had been answered.
In the silence, the gymnasium became a cathedral of sound. I was the only voice that needed to be heard and God provided the perfect setting. I never missed a beat and performed my whole program with no instrumental accompaniment. It was OK!
In retrospect, it was better than OK—it was memorable. The crowd seemed enamored that I had the courage to continue with my planned program and had let nothing stop the show. To this day, I still intersect with women who were there that night. We all comment about what God did so that His message could be heard!
Jesus knew exactly what it took to be heard by the hearts of mankind. His stories and parables were so memorable, that this scene is recorded in three of the gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
- Have you ever been in a crowd and felt the need to "get away?"
- Do you know what it feels like to address an audience? How does it affect you?
- What’s a story that has impacted your life?
- Have you ever seen the power of God show up immediately, like in the auditorium, to answer your prayers?