one big story: how a children’s book taught me the Gospel

51SUEnc+gRL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-41,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_Whenever I share my testimony, it never fails that the Jesus Storybook Bible makes its way into the narrative. A friend gave Hadley a copy, and when I first sat down to read it to her, I couldn’t make it through the introduction without tears. The thought of God’s never stopping, never giving up, unbreaking, always and forever love had become, in my mind, a distant fable. And yet the words of this children’s book broke through my hardened facade and connected with my heart.

Looking back, reading the Gospel through the sweetness and simplicity of a children’s story was just what my heart needed. But what’s more, the book helped me to see the Bible as one grand sweeping story – “The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them.” Up until that point, I was reading the Bible as a series of isolated stories with heroes to imitate (at best) or a list of unachievable rules (at worst). As I made my way with Hadley through the Jesus Storybook Bible, and as I began to devour my Bible, doing a reading plan that involved reading cross-sections simultaneously (rather than starting at the beginning and plowing through to the end), God’s plan for redemption became increasingly clear and abundantly more beautiful.

A lot of people tell me they have a hard time reading their Bibles. Whether it’s a matter of time, discipline, or desire, I understand and sympathize in a new way this year, being home with two children under two. I struggle to get up in the morning, struggle to focus on what I’m reading, struggle to digest and process and apply.

But I think the Jesus Storybook Bible is part of the key. When we see the Bible as one big story–a story not about me or you, but about Jesus–we are drawn to it. We long for God’s words because we know that they bring life. We long to hear from God and we know He has spoken. We long for God, and we find Him in His Word. And as we read Scripture through the lens of redemption, we behold the glory of God in the face of Christ–the Word who became flesh.

Practically speaking, if ten chapters feels overwhelming to you, I’ve started the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan with D.A. Carson’s commentary (which is available free here).

Here is an Advent Reading Plan that goes with the Jesus Storybook Bible. We just started reading the Storybook Bible with Adrienne and I love the way it stirs my love for Scripture. Maybe spending the month of December in it will gear you up to try a new Bible reading plan in 2014? (This article is helpful.)

I think what prompted this post today was this recent episode from White Horse Inn.

Did I just lay some heavy law on your shoulders?? It’s not that reading your Bible earns you any approval from God. It will not improve your standing before Him. It will not justify you or free you from condemnation.

Jesus did that.

There is no law here. Only grace. But we’re forgetful and need reminding.

Come to Scripture to be reminded of grace. Let it lift your eyes to see Jesus. Let it fight the lies that try to condemn you. Let it remind you of your freedom, purchased on the cross.