A Book I’m Excited About
January 13, 2009
A few months ago, I saw a recommendation on a blog I read for The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. I bought a copy last week and am really excited about its potential. The title didn’t do it for me. I don’t know if others feel this way, but I find most of the Christian bookstore to be an embarrassment to the faith. Silly trinkets and junk and Christian re-packaging of regular merchandise. And it feels sometimes that the Bible section is ridiculous. There is a specific Bible for every struggle under the sun, and I’m not criticizing this (well, maybe I am) but it does feel a bit like overkill sometimes. I’ve been equally bothered by the children’s resource section. The books, devotions, and study guides that are created with my children’s age groups in mind seem either too intense and guilt-invoking or too silly. Am I the only one who feels like all the “Christian books” out there have the same text with different titles? And text is “God is good. You are bad. Try harder.”
I am often mulling over the ways to impart my faith in Christ to my children. I want them to love God, to trust in His goodness, to walk in His ways, to be part of His Kingdom – both in the here and now, and when this life is over. But how? How do I do it? Is it possible to raise children in the evangelical church who love God and don’t embrace funky ideas of a long list of rules they’re supposed to keep, and a heavy sense of guilt for not doing as well as they should? Is it possible to raise them to understand that there is more to being a Christian than simply “praying the sinner’s prayer” and getting your ticket to Heaven? Maybe I’m over-identifying here, and my own issues of religious shame that I’ve worked through as a kid who “grew up born again” are coming into play more than I like to think. Maybe my own bitterness about some of the more reductionistic aspects of “Evangelical” Christianity have jaded my perspective. But already my sweet 10-year old Lucy has told me that she feels guilty that she doesn’t always read her Bible every day, and she worries when she doesn’t finish her Wednesday night “homework” for her church club. And there is validity to that. There are disciplines we need to keep. There is a time and place to force ourselves to read our Bible even when we don’t feel like it. But I don’t want all those “shoulds” to squelch my children’s natural heart response to the good news of God’s love and His redemptive plan for our lives.
(Whoa. I guess I feel pretty strongly about this. Getting back to my initial thought…)
The title didn’t do it for me. I thought it sounded like just another children’s Bible with new pictures. But this one is different. The subtitle? Every story whispers His Name. In the opening pages a quote from G.K. Chesterton: “I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller.” Those were the first clues that this was no ordinary book. The introduction claims, “Now some people think the Bible is a book of rules, telling you what you should and shouldn’t do. The Bible certainly does have some rules in it. They show you how life works best. But the Bible isn’t mainly about you and what you should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done. ”
Okay. I’m hooked.
“…There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling one Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.”
Goosebumps. Gratitude at God’s mercy. That’s what I’m sensing as Dave read these first pages aloud to our children on the couch after dinner. I’ve flipped through a lot of the stories, and there is a recurring phrase that is used to describe God’s love – A Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love. I’ve got to do one more quote from the story of Adam and Eve and the Fall: “And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always and long for him – lost children yearning for their home.”
This is going to be a good book. Suitable for ages 4 and up, the back cover claims. Amazing. It taps into one of the abiding principles I try to shape my life around – getting back to the Created Order, where God is God, and I am one of His creatures, not trying to be God, but content to be me and to gratefully utilize the “grace upon grace” He offers to be part of His Kingdom.
Fairy tale language! Fairy tale themes! And best of all, it’s the Fairy Tale come true.