When Sally Lloyd-Jones came for an overnight jaunt to the farm, our kids sort of thought it was a bit like the Queen was coming — I mean, they both have the loveliest British accents. And our kids have been raised up on The Jesus Storybook Bible, tattered and beat-up copies now, from much, much love — so Sally was like a bit of wonder and love coming for tea — or just bacon and eggs. We stayed up too late listening to Sally’s stories and tales and captivated by way her eyes danced with her laughter. You can’t help but fall in love with this woman of deep theological truths and endearing warmth. We absolutely loved everything about her — and are counting the days till she comes back. The farm’s front porch is humbled and ecstatic to welcome Sally Lloyd Jones’s wonderful words today…
I magine it.
The poor disciples are in the middle of a terrible storm.
They are experienced sailors who’ve sailed this lake a million times but they’ve never seen anything like this.
They can’t control their little boat.
The storm is way too big for them.
And then it gets worse. Not only are they about to drown—but now they see a ghost! Walking on the water! Coming to get them!
Except it’s not a ghost—it’s their Savior.
Coming to them in the storm. They just didn’t recognize Him.
I wonder: How often do we not recognize our Rescuer coming to us in the storm?
How can we help our children recognize Him? In their storms?
In retelling the story for children, do we make the storm safe and age-appropriate by dumbing it down, making it seem small so they aren’t scared?
No. We tell the truth.
We tell the story by showing just how powerful that storm was. So we can show how much more powerful still their Rescuer is.
Jesus comes to us walking on top of the water. (Actually the word is “ambling” or “strolling”.) Like a stroll in a garden on a sunny day, He walks on the storm.
He is that powerful.
In the middle of the storm Jesus comes to you.
In your darkest hour
In your greatest struggle
In your deepest need
In your little boat on the boisterous sea
He comes to you.
He comes in the fourth watch of the night—those hours from 3-6 AM—the very darkest part of the night. The part just before the dawn.
I was once asked to write the Resurrection story for children—but not mention death. She didn’t want it to upset children—when they’re so young, she said, we must protect them from any mention of death.
But the problem is — without death there is no resurrection.
Without the tears, without the sorrow— how will you get to the joy?
Without going through the night, how will you reach morning?
When we dumb down the story— we rob children of joy. Which is another way of saying we rob them of seeing their Rescuer— the Prince of Joy. And if we do that… How will they recognize Him in the storm?
You need the darkness to show what light is.
So, when I was writing Tiny Bear’s Bible (a Bible storybook for the tiniest of tiny tots)—I wrote this:
He died on a cross, but on the third day…
He rose from the tomb!
The stone rolled away!
Jesus is living! He’s risen! It’s true!
So now—though we die—we’ll live with him too.
Children know only too well that there are monsters. Maybe not literal ones with green slimy fur and horrible horns—but there is a good reason children imagine monsters under their bed or hiding in their closet.
They know all is not well with our world. If we don’t tell children the truth how can they trust us? They have deep fears and concerns. Are we taking children’s fears seriously—or just diverting them?
Is our job to protect children from life? Or equip them for it?
Now, of course, I’m not suggesting we go round scaring babies. But I am suggesting we work a littler harder. Because there is a way to be age appropriate AND tell the truth.
Because no one is too young for the Truth.
This world is not our home. Hard things happen. Storms will come. But I love to see God equipping His little ones with His promises from the very beginnings of their lives, helping them know He is with them, helping them recognize Him coming to them:
God made a promise,
(So you know that it’s true!)
“I’ll always, always be with you!”
No matter what, no matter where
Yes, God is with us, Tiny Bear.
He’ll never leave us—day or night
He’s always with us—yes, that’s right!
Sally Lloyd-Jones is a New York Times bestselling children’s book writer. Her books include ECPA Devotional book of the year, Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing, the Gold Book Award-winning and ALA notable, The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name and the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller How to Be a Baby: By Me, the Big Sister.
Tiny Bear’s Bible is a warm and fuzzy reminder of how God loves his children―in a format kids can cuddle. Together with their friend Tiny Bear, children discover eleven Bible stories in a book they can carry with them wherever they go. Sally Lloyd-Jones presents some of the most familiar Bible stories to children, which provides parents and grandparents lots of teachable, cuddly moments as they explore God’s love together. Tiny Bear’s Bible is a Bible with fur on. (Don’t you wish you had one of those as a grown up?). Sally wrote it so little children could know the magnificent promises God has made — to them. So they can hold those promises close to their hearts. (Literally.) A perfect, gorgeous read — for every child — to read again and again.
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership of today’s devotion ]