What Is It About Small Children?

Have you noticed the super powers small children wield?

I was riding the NYC subway one morning, when the doors opened and into the car walked a little child.

She was maybe 2.

Instantly, all of us—these defended New Yorkers, all avoiding eye contact, all guarding our space—were transformed. We smiled at her. At her mother. At each other.

Her gentleness disarmed us. Barriers of race and age and status vanished.

She changed everything.

When people asked Jesus, “Who’s the greatest in your Kingdom?” Jesus showed them a little child and said, “Become like this little child.”

It’s not always all about what we teach children.

It’s about what they teach us.

I’ve learned that from writing for children. Writing for children keeps you honest. You have to dig deeper. Work harder. Understand it better. Your job is to distill—to take the profound and make it simple enough for a child to understand.

When I was writing THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE, I couldn’t rely on jargon. A little child has no concept of what sin is, for instance. I had to find other ways to describe it. I wrote that: sin is not just about breaking the rules, it’s breaking God’s heart; it’s like poison that makes your heart sick and stops it from working properly; it’s like running away from God and hiding in the shadows.

Writing for children demands nothing short of excellence.

The funny thing is—if you write with the excellence that children deserve you reach everyone. C S Lewis said: “No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

Excellence, it turns out, is the most inclusive thing.

THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE has broken out of the boundaries typical for a children’s bible storybook—read by college students, theologians, pastors, couples; read in schools, prisons, old people’s homes. (It’s so popular with adults that we have published their own edition: THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU.)

I think it has something to do with that place inside of us all that remains a child still, the place God loves to speak to us—the place where we are undefended, humble, open to wonder. Open him. The place that tiny child spoke to us all, in that NYC subway car that morning.

In THE JESUS STORYBOOK BIBLE I captured the plotline of the Bible. As adults when do we ever hear that plotline? Even if we go to church regularly, we may never hear the whole story in one sitting.

But when you distill the story down so that you can read it in one sitting, immediately it is startling. Because most of us think we know what the Bible is about—and it’s not good. We think it’s a book of rules you follow so God will love you. Or a book of heroes you copy so God will love you.

But it’s none of those things.

It’s most of all a Story.

The Story Of a God who breaks into History and comes down to rescue his children. A God who moves heaven and earth to be near them, to love them—though it would cost him everything.

The Story of a young Hero who comes from a far country to win back his lost treasure. The Story of a brave Prince who leaves his palace, his throne—everything—to rescue the one he loves.

The Bible is simply this: THE STORY OF GOD’S LOVE FOR YOU.

And I don’t know anyone—young or old—who doesn’t need to hear that story.

Sally Lloyd-Jones is a New York Times bestselling author whose books include: Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, a children’s devotional which won the ECPA Christian Book of The Year award in adult inspiration, and The Jesus Storybook Bible, now available in a format for adults with a new design and title, The Story of God’s Love for You. Sally also has a new picture book coming this spring, Baby Wren and the Great Gift.

Happily Ever After?

sally jones DECEMBER 8, 2015

Happily Ever After?

“He reached down from heaven and rescued me.” Psalm 18:16a (NLT)

SALLY LLOYD-JONESSALLY LLOYD-JONESRemember when you were little and fairytales were true? Don’t you sometimes wish they still were?

My niece Ellie was about 3 years old and living completely inside fairytales. She dressed up as a princess for breakfast. She dreamed. She sang. She twirled. She danced her way through her days.

But she was also in a playgroup and had already been called names. Fat, ugly … though she was none of those things.

The real world, she discovered, was no fairytale.

My nephew dreamed of being a fierce, brave hero, but was struggling at school.

Watching them discover this wonderful, magical world of fairytales they loved so much just wasn’t true broke my heart.

And then a thought broke through. What if my niece’s wonder and joy wasn’t a lie at all? What if my nephew’s dreams of bravery weren’t just fantasy? What if they were actually pointing to the Truth?

What if they were pointing to the ultimate truth of the Gospel: the great Good News of a God who loves us and broke into history to come down and rescue us? Who moved heaven and earth to be near us, to love us — though it would cost Him everything He had?

As a child, I thought I knew what the Bible was about — and it wasn’t good.

I thought it was a rulebook filled with things I was supposed to do so God would love me. Or a book of these heroes I was supposed to copy so God would love me.

And so I wrote The Jesus Storybook Bible for my niece and nephew and every child I will only ever meet on the shared page so they could know what I didn’t — that the Bible isn’t a rulebook 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 far away 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 ones 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 — it’s true!”*

Why do we love fairytales? And long for them to be true? Are they just fantasy, a way to escape our lives? I believe they are the opposite.

These longings of ours are not fantasy. They are signposts. Pointing us beyond what we can see. Leading us into the heart of things. Into Hope and Joy and Love.

There is a Prince.
There is a Hero.
We are loved.
We are chosen.
We are beloved.

There is a Love we all long for.
There is Joy at the center of everything.
And Hope beyond the walls of the world.

There are Hands that hold us.
There is a purpose in the middle of it all.

And one day, God will heal His broken world and His children’s hearts, and wipe away every tear from every eye.

When we read this true story we are not escaping from life, we are escaping into life that is truly life.

But mostly we don’t believe it. We think it’s too good to be true. Happily ever after?

That just sounds like a fairytale, a mere children’s story. And after all, we are adults. We have outgrown fairytales. Fairytales, as anyone can tell you, just aren’t true. We live in the real world.

Stories don’t end happily ever after.

Or … do they?

Dear Father, thank You for sending us Jesus. Thank You that He didn’t just look down … He came down. Our Rescuer. Our Prince. Our Hero. All of our dreams come true! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

John 1:4, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (ESV)

Romans 15:13a, “… the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope …” (NIV)

The Jesus Storybook Bible turned out to be a children’s book that adults were reading. So Sally Lloyd-Jones created a beautiful new edition especially for adults called, The Story of God’s Love for You. Pick up a copy for you and a friend.

To learn more about Sally and her writing, visit her website.

Enter to WIN a copy of The Story of God’s Love for You by Sally Lloyd-Jones. In celebration of this book, Sally’s publisher is giving away five copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here, letting us know why you’d like a copy for yourself OR whom you would give the book to, if you won. {We’ll randomly select five winners and email notifications to each one, by Monday, December 14.}

How might believing the True Fairytale of the Gospel … believing that the Brave Prince, the Young Hero has come … has moved heaven and earth to be near you and love you, change how you live today?

*The Story of God’s Love For You, page 2, copyright Zondervan 2015

© 2015 by Sally Lloyd-Jones. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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