Thursday, January 13, 2011

Jesus Storybook Bible - a review

Excerpt from the Jesus Storybook Bible, by Sally Lloyd-Jones (forgive me for the length--it's good stuff!)

     As soon as the snake saw his chance, he slithered silently up to Eve.  "Does God really love you?" the serpent whispered.  "If he does, why won't he let you eat the nice, juicy, delicious fruit?  Poor you, perhaps God doesn't want you to be happy."
     The snake's words hissed into her ears and sunk down deep into her heart, like poison.  Does God love me?  Eve wondered.  Suddenly she didn't know anymore. 
     "Just trust me." the serpent whispered.  "You don't need God.  One small taste, that's all, and you'll be happier than you could ever dream..."
     Eve picked the fruit and ate some.  And Adam ate some, too.
     And a terrible lie came into the world.  It would never leave.  It would live on in every human heart, whispering to every one of God's children, "God doesn't love me."
     And it wasn't a dream.  It was a nightmare.
     A dove flew from Adam's hand.  A deer darted in a thicket.  It was as if they were frightened by something.  A chill was in the air.  Something strange was happening.  They had always been naked--but now they felt naked, and wrong, and they didn't want anyone to see them.  So they hid.  
     Later that evening, as God was taking his walk, he called to them, "Children?"
     Usually Adam and Even loved to hear God's voice and would run to him.  But this time, they ran away from him and hid in the shadows.  
     "Where are you?" God called.
     "Hiding," Adam said.  "We're afraid of you."
     "Did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?" God asked them.
     Adam said, "Eve made me do it!"
     And terrible pain came into God's heart.  His children hadn't just broken the one rule; they had broken God's heart. They had broken their wonderful relationship with him.  And now he knew everything else would break.  God's creation would start to unravel, and come undone, and go wrong.  From now on everything would die--even though it was all supposed to last forever.
     You see, sin had come into God's perfect world.  And it would never leave.  God's children would be always running away from him and hiding in the dark.  Their hearts would break now, and never work properly again.  
     God couldn't let his children live forever, not in such pain, not without him.  There was only one way to protect them.
     "You will have to leave the garden now," God told his children, his eyes filling with tears.  "This is no longer your true home, it's not the place for you anymore."
     But before they left the garden, God made clothes for his children, to cover them.  He gently clothed them and then he sent them away on a long, long journey--out of the garden, out of their home.
     Well, in another story, it would all be over and that would have been.......The End.
     But not in this Story.
     God loved his children too much to let the story end there.  Even though he knew he would suffer, God had a plan--a magnificent dream.  One day, he would get his children back.  One day, he would make the world their perfect home again.  And one day, he would wipe away every tear from their eyes.
     You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children--with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.
     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.
     Before they left the garden, God whispered a promise to Adam and Eve: "It will not always be so!  I will come to rescue you!  And when I do, I'm going to do battle against the snake.  I'll get rid of the sin and the dark and the sadness you let in here.  I'm coming back for you!"

And he would.  One day, God himself would come.  

We bought the Jesus Storybook Bible for our daughter Mary, age 4, for Christmas.  As you can see from this rather long excerpt, it is powerful.  Every story does indeed "whisper his name", as advertised on the back cover.  The coming of Jesus is mentioned in some form at the end of each story, such as in the ending to this tower of Babel story:

     You see, God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could never get back to heaven by themselves.  People didn't need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer.  Because the way back to heaven wasn't a staircase; it was a Person.
     People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them.
     And, one day, it would.

This book is advertised for ages 4-7, but both my husband and me feel this age range is too low.  Our four year old can't really understand the deep meanings contained in these stories.  Over time, of course, she will, and I'm very glad I bought this book!  I think kids 6 and up will get the most out of these stories, written in this form.

My husband doesn't care for the melodramatic prose.  He thinks it makes the Bible harder to understand, rather than easier.  I think it's always better to go straight to the Bible, but having other things around the house for devotionals is a good idea, to spice things up, if you will.  This particular storybook bible is unique in trying to highlight the great hope of the whole Bible--Jesus.  It's definitely worth reading to your kids.  I'm enjoying it myself, actually, and I'm way over the age range!

Paul (age 7) and I both cried at this version of the fall of man. Actually, I guess we cry at every version we read, but this one in particular really gripped our hearts.  I wanted so much to comfort my son, but I was so overcome myself, I couldn't come up with comforting words, until much later.  The story of the fall is so heavy, so wrought with tragedy, it's hard not to feel a sense of devastation each time I read it.

Paul is a very bright boy and he really feels this story.  Keenly.  He said to me, through his tears, "How could God allow Satan to do that!?"  I think somehow he understands it--the magnitude of it--better than my older son, who just turned nine.

Thankfully, the stories are hopeful.  They do whisper His name.  Paul has started taking this book and reading it on his own.  He is hungry for that hope, especially after that first night of tears.

I hope this text brings us some help, some comfort, in regards to the suffering experienced on earth. Peter asks me often now, "Why did Jesus make me this way?!"  His OCD has become just awful at night time.  He fears there's a bomb in his closet (along with a host of other irrational fears) and starts dreading the nighttime as early as 5 p.m.  He gets thoughts that I'm going to harm him (detonate the bomb in his closet, for example), but I'm the one he also must have for comfort, to finally get to sleep.

OCD people are not delusional or psychotic.  They understand completely that their brains are playing tricks, but they still have to do the compulsions for comfort (i.e. washing their hands for contamination fears, checking doors for burglar fears, checking that the stove is off, etc.)  Peter is mainly battling the nighttime fears right now.

Each night drains me beyond belief.  I no longer assume Peter will lead a normal life.  He has so much to deal with, and my telling him that Jesus has special plans for his life--special plans to use Peter to touch others and bring glory to God--doesn't bring as much comfort now.  Specific obsessions and compulsions come and go, I know.  We're praying that these specific nighttime fears subside quickly.

Anyhow, in relation to the Jesus Storybook Bible, I'm hoping that Peter will learn to take comfort in the Great Hope of the Bible--Jesus, and the promised return to Paradise.

We suffer here on earth greatly, but time is fleeting.  Heaven is near.  Only God understands how fleeting. That's why, I believe, he can stand to let us suffer at all.

Psalm 39:4-5
O Lord, help me understand my mortality
and the brevity of life!
Let me realize how quickly my life will pass!
Look, you make my days short-lived,
and my life span is nothing from your perspective.
Surely all people, even those who seem secure, are nothing but vapor.


Ann Kroeker said...

Wow, wow, wow...I'm so touched to read your personal story at the end as well as your recommendation of the Jesus Storybook Bible. I had the privilege of hearing Sally Lloyd-Jones read from that and speak briefly at the Festival of Faith & Writing. That passage is haunting and hopeful at the same time, isn't it?

Thank you for dropping by my blog, and I'm so glad to slip over to yours and find this post.

Sandi said...

We love this bible too. I never get tried of reading it. It always brings me back to the main thing.

Laura said...

Oh, Christine. My heart just aches for Peter. I continue to pray for him and for you and your family. I know how difficult it must be. Yet you are so strong, so faith-filled. Just keep leaning into Jesus. He knows.

I don't think I have ever read this version and it sounds wonderful. I'll have to check our church library to see if it is in stock. Aren't our boys just a lesson in faith of themselves? God speaks through these children.

praying for you, friend.

Christine said...

Thank you for the prayers, Laura! Peter actually had a better evening tonight! Bless you!

Anonymous said...

Amazing post, I'm so glad I stopped by! The Jesus Storybook bible has incredibly blessed us too - I just wrote on it recently too. :)
Did you know that Sally Lloyd-Jones has just released another book? We are waiting for it to arrive any day. Blessings to you and your family.