It is so well-known that a Google search cannot even turn up the original speaker of the famous quote: “A Book is a Magic Portal to Another Dimension.” And, believe me, it is true. I can still remember the journeys I used to take into the worlds of Trudi Canavan, John Flanagan, Christopher Paolini, J. K. Rowling, and, my favourite ‘other dimension’ to visit, Robin Hobb.
I can still remember the hours I spent pouring myself into these novels. And, more than that, I can still vividly remember the worlds which these books opened up before me. Worlds of pirates, and ships made of living wood. Worlds of dragons and magic. Worlds of friendships and hardships.
And, I am sure, if you have been introduced to the wonderful world of reading, that you too can attest to the power of all the ‘other dimensions’ that you have entered into.
However, even if you were never introduced to the world of reading, or if you just don’t like reading, thankfully, there are any number of ways to enter into ‘another dimension’ nowadays. A movie has the same power. When watching a movie, often we pour ourselves into, to the exclusion of all else. That’s why we don’t like having to get up to go to the toilet at the cinemas, because we want to enter fully into the world of the movie, without interruption (that’s also why a person whose mobile phone goes off during the movie, gets glares of hatred and mental death threats).
The same thing can happen with TV shows. Sometimes, people can even get so engulfed by the story of the TV show, that they watch the entire series in a few days!
Songs, poetry, and even, games can have a similar effect.
But, why do stories have such an effect on us, as people? Why do stories, if we get into them, have the capacity to consume our time, and even, to consume our lives?
There are many reasons (for children, the sheer joy of reading something; or, more generally, the ability to relate to a certain plot or character, are just two examples). But, one of the big reasons I think a lot of people love stories is: to escape their life.
You see, life is sometimes so boring. We go to work, we come home, we make dinner, we put the kids to bed, we study, we wake up and go for a jog; and repeat. (Only occasionally, do our lives get exciting: the odd wedding; or a day-trip to the beach, which ends with ice-cream; or the sunrise hike up a mountain.) But, you see, in books, and movies, and TV shows, and games; there are no boring bits! It is always exciting! There are no Mondays! Or Thursday afternoons! It is always a Friday, or a Saturday night, or a long weekend. In stories, we can escape our mundane existences and find some excitement.
We find ourselves dissatisfied with our lives as they stand, and so, we escape into the world of stories. Stories help us get through the day. Stories help give us the adventures that our hearts crave.
Therefore, we pour ourselves into stories. We end up losing complete days, even weeks, to books, movies, TV shows and games. Because, it is in the world of those stories that our hearts find what they truly crave: meaning, joy and contentment.
It makes me wonder, why did it take me so long to get into stories? You see, my father spent years attempting to get me to read, but, I didn’t want to read. However, I suspect that if my father had told me about the friends and the mysteries and the adventures that I would have in those books, I suspect, that I would have been far more eager to enter into the worlds that were awaiting me.
Now, as Christians, imagine if we talked about the Christian life, with that kind of enthusiasm and language. Imagine if we told people that they would have adventures, meet new friends, have endless laughs and shed countless tears. Imagine if we told people that the Gospel was the most amazing story of all time. That the Gospel is a portal to another dimension. That if they pour themselves into the Gospel, like they would into a TV show or a book, that they would not be disappointed. That people no longer need to escape their mundane lives in books and movies, because, in the Gospel, their lives can become exhilarating! Their lives will become ‘real page-turners’. Imagine if we promised people that their hearts would find everything they crave, if they join in on God’s story, which is, the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with reading books, or watching movies, or playing games. Nothing wrong with them at all. But, the problem with those things is that they end. So, if you want an adventure that will never end, that will consume your entire life, that will satisfy your heart – I invite you (and I ask that you invite others who are seeking adventure), accept the Gospel. And then, brace yourself.