I still remember the moment about 11 years ago as I sat on a comfy leather couch during my first women’s Bible study book club. I couldn’t tell you which book we were discussing that month, but what I can remember with vivid details is the one truth that our book club leader shared that took my faith journey on a new trajectory. She shared that as American Christians, we often read the Bible looking for what God has to say about us personally, but the Bible is meant to be read as one big rescue story from Genesis to Revelation. This rescue story has many twists and turns, but through it all, God the Father, God the Son Jesus, and God the Holy Spirit rescue and redeem their creation. Our individual lives fit within the scope of God’s rescue plan.
Since the Bible was written by middle eastern men, living in a middle eastern culture, and translated from Hebrew, Greek, and Aramic languages, sometimes as Americans we don’t understand the Bible, because we aren’t reading the Bible with the same frame of reference. American culture as a whole is very independent and individualistic and tends to make scripture all about their unique lives. This makes us interpret the Bible through the lens of our current culture instead of the original intent of the verses. (Case in point-I definitely fell into this category without even realizing it!)
When I first heard her say this truth I had to pause and do a double take. At that point, I was in my mid twenties and been in church all my life. We used to joke that our mom had us in church any time the doors were opened. I knew the plan of salvation, could recite many Bible stories, memorized many verses, but I missed the big picture of the Bible as a whole. I never thought of the Bible as one complete rescue story. My western United States perspective struggled a bit to figure out what this meant, but this was the beginning of the most beautiful growth in my spiritual journey.
It was in this same book club that other fellow moms shared that they were finding so much rich theological truth inside the children’s Bible: The Jesus Storybook Bible. Although Mackenzie was just six months old at the time, as I would read aloud each part to her, I found myself amazed at how Jesus was literally woven through the entire Bible. To see these truths, I had to know enough of the context of scripture to put all of the pieces together. Children’s Bibles aren’t just for kids-I fully believe there is a reason why the Lord tells us to come to Him with the faith of a little child. My hunch is that reading at least one new children’s storybook Bible a year will be a rhythm that I want to continue throughout raising our children and one day our grandchildren. We can all keep growing together in the process!
Some of our family’s favorites from over the years are:
Fast forward a few years later, when Nathan and I started teaching the 4th and 5th grade Sunday School class at our church, we researched quality curriculums and found The Gospel Project. In what the Jesus Storybook Bible did for families for bedtime devotions, The Gospel Project took children (and adults!) through the whole scope of the Bible in a chronological order in three years time. Although we were studying each week to disciple the 4th and 5th graders in our class, Nathan and I grew leaps and bounds with our understanding of the Bible (also known as biblical literacy). We taught the 4th and 5th grade class for 8 years and were able to complete almost 3 complete cycles of the curriculum. Looking back we can both say that we noticed new connections each time we taught a lesson. We also gained a deeper sense of gratitude for how intentionally our Creator God put His rescue plan in motion from the very beginning. Our sin didn’t take God by surprise. He set a plan in motion to bring us back to him from the very beginning. Every time we open up our Bibles is an opportunity to dive deeper and notice connections we hadn’t seen before. Although as people we make mistakes, He alone is always faithful.
Once we can establish this firm foundation of who God was, is, and always will be, we can notice God’s glory through our unique children that much more clearly. We can see how our families fit within God’s big rescue and redemption story.
With this goal in mind to continue to study God’s word through His big picture rescue and redemption story, in the next blog post, I will share my personal Bible Study goals and resource list for the new year.
Friend, I wonder which teachers or studies have impacted your faith journey? What are you and your families hoping to learn about the Lord in this new year?