What fulfills our hearts — and makes Jesus Happy

When I look at a Bible a little rough around the edges, I see a life spent with Jesus. Each tear stain, I wonder if it was from desperation or new found hope. Every underline or highlight, is someone putting their trust in the promises of the Word. It’s an expectation of delivery, and not of the UPS kind. It’s guaranteed delivery no matter the storm. It’s a grace to welcome Stephanie Alton as she writes about The Beginner’s Bible on the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Stephanie Alton

I need to call myself a hypocrite. This day, I was stretched too thin and wasn’t offering the best me to my boys.

They were really getting to me and I just wanted to tuck them in and go have some peace and quiet.

Then they begged. My instinct in the flesh was ugh, no. But my spirit said yes to the Bible story request.

As I picked up their Bible, The Beginner’s Bible, I realized it was a little rough around the edges – literally.

Most of the book was broken away from the spine. A nerf bullet place marked Noah’s Ark on page 26. A favorite story of theirs. Memorized for sure. Pictures included. A story so significant and relevant to them – even in their school days.

“The people kept doing bad things, and they forgot about God. Except Noah. Noah loved God.”

It’s just like our talks. Kids at school are saying bad words when no adults are around.

I remind them to choose wisely, even if the kids make you feel as though you are the only one not saying them. Jesus knows what you say even when I don’t. Please don’t make Him sad. Be like Noah, he was the only one who wasn’t being bad.

“God was sad that everyone but Noah forgot about him. He told Noah about his plan to start over.”

I think this reminder was for me and my attitude. Start over. Check.

“Make yourself an ark,” God said. “Here’s how.” So Noah and his family began working on the ark.

Our ark right now, the impossible school project. Sure, we have vague instructions and active imaginations. But really?! I’m not crafty or a good builder, or handle their frustration from failed attempts very well.

I wonder if there is commentary anywhere on Noah’s failed attempts? How did he manage when he couldn’t see beyond the failed test runs? Did he fail during the build?

“One day, Noah sent a dove to find land. It flew and flew but never found any.”

I wonder if they sent that dove out because Noah’s family had been cranky like mine was. Did they just need some space and time to themselves too? Was it getting cramped in the ark?!

Stuck in my thoughts my mind rushed to our struggle to find a church and my youngest boy’s resistance to go every week. Even now that we have been at a lovely place for a while, he still doesn’t want to go.

“So it came back. One week later.”

Yes, each week we go back and face the same dispute. This battle is so tough, especially with so many friends at school who don’t believe in God or go to church.

“Noah sent the dove out again.”

 I keep taking the boys to church and sending them to school.

“This time it brought him an olive leaf. Noah cheered, “It must have found land!”

Maybe we all have our finding land moment? A few weeks ago, our boys brought home a friend who has never been to church and wants to go with us. This must be their mission field – bringing friends to church.

“The ark finally came to rest on top of a mountain.”

 “Mama,” they say. “Do you think the ark landed on the top of Pikes Peak?”

They are so filled with wonder and my need to scurry has been put to ease.

“God told Noah to leave the ark. Noah and his family praised God.”

I tucked them in and kissed their cheeks praising God because I get to say good night to my babies – who aren’t really babies anymore. They are 8 and 10 and declaring the rest of the story as I set their Bible down. As clear as the sky, they confidently state, “God will never flood the whole earth again.”

“I think of that when I see rainbows,” says my youngest.

Then it hit hypocrite – me as I saw an old VBS bookmark with Jesus on it holding the place of one of their other favorite stories, David & Goliath (page 173). The wear and tear I saw as a lack of care was the same as the rugged Bible with tears, highlights, and underlines.

Their Bible is torn from the spine and has bent edges because they use it and take it with them when we travel. They use things that they LOVE and are important to them to mark the stories that matter the most to them.

And I remember how The Beginner’s Bible has inspired them with stories of how God gave David the courage to use his everyday tools to defeat a giant.

I remember how they began to put it together, that God gives actually them courage right now to use the tools they have to face their  own giants. Like when they realized they could use their handwriting to tell the teacher with a note about a bully — so no one else would know.

Flipping through pages, there’s all these memories — of how the vibrant, animated pictures have helped them to visualize Biblical heroes in a style that would be relevant to the time period they lived in. Like a captain in full metal and a metal helmet. Or simple sandals and tunics once worn but look a bit different than the sandals and tunics of today.

Our repetitive reading of The Beginner’s Bible has helped my boys memorize stories and get the gist of them before they dive in to a more nuanced, technical Bible.

And if I am being honest — years ago when I first began reading this Bible to my boys, when they were really babies, I was learning some of these stories too.

These pages actually helped me familiarize myself with some of the key players of the Bible.

We kind of built a Biblical foundation together.

And maybe you could tell, God still speaks to me through their Bible too.

Maybe in some ways, the boys have probably outgrown this version of the Bible. But it is familiar, they know what is coming, and when it is their turn to read they don’t always have to: they can recite a lot of it from heart.

What more could any heart really want?

Because as Ann, another mama who loves worn Bibles, can testify to:

“To truly know His heart by heart — is what truly fulfills the heart.”

 

Stephanie Alton is definitely not the gal who wrote this Bible. She is just a mama who has sat with her boys night after night reading The Beginner’s Bible from their birth into their boyhood. Learning, memorizing, and growing with them. Hoping and praying that their faith will be mightier than hers, and is trying to raise them up with a firmer faith foundation than she had growing up. Believing that we are on a life long journey together of loving God’s Word.

The Beginner’s Bible is where a child’s journey towards a lifelong love of God’s Word begins. The best-selling Bible storybook of our time, with over  25 million products sold! Introduce children to the stories of the Bible through vibrant art and compelling text with The Beginner’s Bible— full of life and fun, and featuring brand new vibrant, three-dimensional art. 2006 Retailers Choice Award winner in Children’s Nonfiction.

Kids will enjoy reading the story of Noah’s Ark as they see Noah helping the elephant onto the big boat. They will learn about the prophet Jonah as they see him praying inside the fish. And they will follow along with the text of Jesus’ ministry as they see a man in need of healing lowered down through the roof of a house. Parents, teachers, pastors, and children will rediscover these beloved parables and so much more as they read more than 90 stories in The Beginner’s Bible, just like millions of children before.

From First Communions to birthdays, Christmas to Easter, The Beginner’s Bible is not only a wonderful gift for any child, it is one of the most trusted Christian resources for Sunday school and homeschooling.

Click here for an Easter Gift Guide with free downloads.

[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]