Monday, June 13, 2011

Bible Stories Unleashed

As a child I remember being read exciting and dashing tales from the bible. Stories about life and death, sacrifice and slavery, and power and glory.  The truth was not held back from me.  The pictures in the bible story books were realistic and did not cover up vital elements of the story.  I remember asking many questions as the stories shocked me and penetrated deep down in my heart.  It was the truth of these stories that would later pave my own path on my way to the foot of the cross.  I vividly remember seeing children as a part of the crowd drowning in the Biblical flood and having to work through that with my Grandma and with God too.  It challenged me but made the story real to me too.
(Image source:The Bible for Children-Retold by Bridget Hadaway & Jean Atcheson, Cathay Books 1973)
Children’s bible stories today have been watered down and placated at the risk of exceeding a 'G rating'.  The characters in the pictures are often over animated and the words so dull, it is no wonder that our children go searching for more exciting, more adventurous, more dangerous entertainment.  I remember reading to my 3 year old son the biblical account of the battle of David and Goliath from my own bible.  As I read, I came to parts of the story I could have skipped or glossed over, the insults that were hurled at David, the retort from David’s own lips, the fact that David decapitates Goliath with his own sword.  However I chose to leave those details in.  I chose to give the real the account portrayed in the bible and see what God would do.  I saw my son’s eyes come alive! I saw him gasp in excitement and ask a multitude of questions.  I was amazed.  He was not terrified; he was enthralled, to the point that he could repeat the words said by both characters.  The next day was filled with playing out the story.  The Bible was alive to Him.  God was speaking to his young heart and leaving an imprint there.

It is no wonder that children are enamoured with Ben 10, Spiderman and every other action hero.  Children crave adventure and excitement.  The Bible is jam packed with vivid tales and truth from beginning to end.   We dearly need to embrace this and share it with our children, so that there is nothing more exciting than God and his adventures with his people.  When our children can learn to value and love the past, they can readily and enthusiastically embrace their future with God too.

Lets look at a quick example from the Gospels.

Jesus wakes up one morning and as he and the disciples push the boat out onto the lake, they asked where they are going that day.  Jesus tells them they are going across the lake to Gedara.  The disciples recoil in terror.  Hushed whispers come over them as they pile into the boat.  Gedara was the residing place a crazy demon possessed man.  They had heard the rumours of this man that was unable to be bound by rope or shackles that had superhuman strength and power and beat and hurt whoever came near.  He cut himself with sharp rocks and was covered in blood and caked dirt.  He lived in the tombs outside of the town and at night, the townspeople could hear him howl and moan in the darkness.   Why would Jesus want to go there? As the boat drew close to the edge of the beach at Gedara, the disciples began to shake with fear as they heard the howls of the mad man.  Jesus was steadfast and undeterred, focused and calm.  He had come to pick a fight.   They all disembarked the boat and started through the tombs and hills toward the town.  At once the demon possessed man ran at Jesus………and bowed low at his feet.  The disciples looked at each other in confusion.  The madman shrieked in a high pitched tone “Why are you interfering with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?  In the name of God I beg you, don’t torture me!” Jesus replied firmly,” Come out of the man, you evil spirit. What is your name?

And so you know how the story ends, a man is delivered. The town lost their supply of pork and the Kingdom of God prevailed over the kingdom of darkness.  What an exciting and dramatic account!  (Story compiled from Mark 5:1-18)
(Amazing storytelling credited to Nicole Conner)
I am not suggesting that we terrorise our young children so they can’t sleep at night, only that we are honest in our portrayal of the bible.  We want our children excited to embrace the bible, the good the bad and the ugly.  We want them to be inspired to share it with their friends.  We want the Spirit of God to work in their hearts from a young age.

We work so hard at trying to protect our children from many things in this fallen world.   The bible is a wonderful teaching tool to challenge our children’s thinking and guide them along the right path, all while engaging their imaginations and heart.  God’s Word truly is a treasure for every family.


Paula Vince said...

Yes, I can understand why Bible story compilers don't want to terrorise children but when they end up with watered down and insipid translations, it's a shame. We need to take care in deciding what to leave out. The Bible is God's Word after all, vital for adults and children alike.
Interestingly, we bought a "Boy's Study Bible" for our eldest son several years ago, which turned out to focus on several gory bits, presumably as a draw card for boys.

Nicole Watson said...

I have seen those 'Boy's Bibles', and I know what you mean. I have even come across kids bible story translations that are not biblical at all. I think as parents we just need to know our bible and know our kids and make the best decision we can for them.

xx Nicole

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