When my sister and I were young, The Wizard of Oz was televised once a
year and always on Sunday night. It was a major event; the
quintessential children’s classic. It began in black and white and
changed to technicolor, and the host cautioned the audience lest they
think their set defective. (Our set did not change so we were spared
that adjustment.) Weeks in advance, we would begin pleading our case
to skip church so that we could watch it. Our batting average was
Under a homemade “tent” (a quilt positioned over chair backs
and held by heavy books) we watched Lucy Ricardo’s antics and
laughed until we cried. I think we both hoped her schemes would work
for her now and then. Most of the time they did not.
We were glued to the set for any appearance featuring the magical
Shirley Temple. We thought her the fairest of them all. Her movies
always made us laugh and they always made us cry.
When my sister was a teenager she loved Marlo Thomas in That Girl.
We both marveled at Ann Marie’s massive eyelashes and perfect hair.
Her clothes were provided by Ohrbach’s (not sure why I remember
that) and it was worth watching the show just to see her fancy,
beautiful outfits, and her perfectly coordinated purses and shoes.
We watched beach movies featuring Gidget and her various leading men
who could, somehow, surf the waves of the Atlantic while carrying on a
conversation with fellow surfers lined up alongside them. We rooted
for backwoods Tammy and her doctor, Cinderella and her Prince, and
Peter Pan and his Tinkerbell.
To say things have changed since then is like saying that a supersonic
jet is faster than a stagecoach. We’ve thrown satellites into space
and fine-tuned our senses until we can hardly bear to be entertained
without high definition and plasma panels. I recall adjusting the
aluminum foil attached to my parent’s antenna so as to enhance the
reception of our three stations, all of which signed off at midnight.
Now our multi-faceted signal is piped directly into our homes or
handhelds and we never have to miss a beat.
About the only thing that has not changed is the fact that
entertainment, old and new, still hinges on a good story. The writers
made us care about Shirley’s dad who was fighting in the war; about
Cinderella’s cruel treatment, and Dorothy’s quest for home. The
dancing and singing, the glass slipper, and the yellow brick road were
icing on the cake. The crux of each experience, the bottom line, was
Even Jesus taught the crowds in stories. Maybe He knew that we would
more quickly grasp the significance of what He was saying if He shared
in parables. Who has not rejoiced for the Samaritan who administered
oil and wine to that halting, suffering robbery victim? (Luke
10:25-37) Who has not re-evaluated their own choices when they read
of the rich man who worked for material gain, only to die before he
enjoyed any of it? (Luke 12:16-21) And who can forget the mental
picture of the wayward prodigal who returned home to a feast instead
of a rebuke? (Luke 15)
Maybe He feared that we would not fully grasp the urgency of His
messages if He didn’t spell them out for us. Maybe He wanted to
offer it so simply that a child could understand and believe. Maybe
Jesus talked in stories because He knew we would, ourselves, each have
Your story may not be rags to riches. You may not dance in the
spotlight. You may not have tailored clothes with massive eyelashes
and perfect hair. But your story is one of a kind; unique to you. Your
DNA is not duplicated by another person on the planet. The qualities
that make you who you are are yours alone, and He has been aware of
you since you were made in secret; since you were in your mother’s
womb. All of the days of your life were written in His book before you
ever drew a breath. He knows when you sit and stand. He knows what you
are going to say before you say it. He thinks of you more often than
there are grains of sand on all of the beaches of the world.
Now, that is a story.