I’ve been hearing about this children’s Bible called The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones for a year or so now, first from Ben Shive, then from a smattering of others whose opinions I respect on such matters. One night last week Jamie and I were putting our sweet Skye to bed (she’s 6 now), and we were talking to her about Christmas. I’d been gearing up to leave for tour and with the first Sunday of Advent fast approaching we wanted to find out what she thought. Jamie asked her who was born on Christmas morning, and Skye answered, “Um…Noah?”
This was upsetting. So much so that I had to leave the room. How, I wondered, had this little girl grown up in our house without knowing the answer to that most central of questions? Well, there are a lot of reasons. If we’d asked her the same thing ten minutes earlier when she was a little more awake, she probably would’ve answered correctly without hesitation. Also, she’s child number three in our house–you know how the first kid’s baby book us chock-full of information? You save every scrap of paper and write down every precious memory. By the time the third kid comes along it’s all you can do to remember your first name, let alone what was playing on the radio when she picked her nose the first time. Skye’s baby book is sadly blank.
I’m afraid the same thing may have happened with our Bible storytelling. Understand, I read the Bible to my kids. We even act out the different stories when we’re finished. But I’ve always noticed that Skye is busy giggling at her older brothers, or she’s the first of the brood to fall asleep when we’re reading. It made me wonder if maybe I hadn’t spent enough one-on-one time, curled up in her bed in those tender minutes before she drifts away, impressing the words of the Lord on the clay of her soul. Or maybe (and it humbles me to say this) I’m not telling the story in a way that captures her imagination. Girls are into pink unicorns. I am not.
I decided that night that something had to be done. I would take measures to ensure my daughter’s biblical understanding. I would pick up The Jesus Storybook Bible as soon as I could lay my hands on it. Just a few nights ago we played a Christmas concert in Michigan City, IN, and Ben told me that he saw the very book in the church’s bookstore. I traded a copy of On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness with the pastor for it, and I can’t help thinking that I got the infinitely better deal. I curled up in my bunk on the bus that night and read:
“No, the Bible isn’t a list of rules, or a book of heroes. The Bible is most of all a Story. It’s an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. It’s a love story about a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne–everything–to rescue the one he loves. It’s like the most wonderful of fairy tales that has come true in real life!
You see, the best thing about this Story is–it’s true.
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.
It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle–the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture.”
I got home just tonight for a day of rest, and after we had read from Luke and lit the Advent candle, I sat by my daughter on the couch where she could see the pictures, and I read those words. Right when I got to the part about the Prince leaving his palace and his throne–leaving everything–I had that all-too-familiar lump rising in my throat, the lump that rises whenever the goodness of the Gospel warms my bones. I saw my daughter’s eyes. I saw that she heard me. And I pray that her little girl heart was soft enough to let the light of that Story shine in.
Andrew Peterson is a singer-songwriter and author. Andrew has released more than ten records over the past twenty years, earning him a reputation for songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. As an author, Andrew’s books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga, released in collectible hardcover editions through Random House in 2020, and his creative memoir, Adorning the Dark, released in 2019 through B&H Publishing.