Saturday, October 17, 2015

Book Review: The Story of God's Love For You

The Story of God's Love for You. Sally Lloyd-Jones. 2015. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: God wrote, "I love you"--he wrote it in the sky, and on the earth, and under the sea. He wrote his message everywhere! Because God created everything in his world to reflect him like a mirror--to show us what he is like, to help us know him, to make our hearts sing. The way a kitten chases her tail. The way red poppies grow wild. The way a dolphin swims. And God put it into words, too, and wrote it in a book called "the Bible." 

The Story of God's Love for You is a great choice for any reader who wants to know what the Bible is all about, but, doesn't have the time or perhaps even the desire to sit down and read the Bible for themselves. Which is understandable. 208 pages versus 1700+ pages. It can seem overwhelming or intimidating or even impossible. (Emphasis on seem. I believe wholeheartedly that anyone can learn to read the Bible and can grow in that desire to read the Bible. Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8.)

The Story of God's Love for You provides readers--of all ages--with an overview of the Bible. They can see "the big picture" of the Bible. Maybe for the first time, seeing how the Bible is ONE book, ONE story.
The Bible is most of all a Story. It's an adventure story about a young Hero who comes from a far country 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 one 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 is--it's true. There are lots of stories in the Bible, but all the stories are telling One Big Story. The Story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. It takes the whole Bible to tell this Story. And at the center of the Story, there is a baby. Every Story in the Bible whispers his name. He is like the missing piece in a puzzle--the piece that makes all the other pieces fit together, and suddenly you can see a beautiful picture. 
Lloyd-Jones makes a point to weave Jesus into each and every story within the book. You might, at least at first, be skeptical. How can Jesus be connected to every story in the Bible? How can every story really "whisper" his name? Isn't that forcing things a bit? But I hope you'll see differently soon enough. For this is how Christ taught us to read the Bible. (Luke 24:27; John 5:39-40; John 5:46)

Lloyd-Jones excels at storytelling: at crafting words together in a creative, descriptive way. She doesn't stay strictly with the facts as revealed in the Bible. She uses her imagination and crafts a story. I think this is a strength, for the most part, so long as readers are aware.

From "Operation No More Tears"
Dear Little Flock,
You're all wandering away from me, like sheep in an open field. You have always been running away from me. And now you're lost. You can't find your way back. But I can't stop loving you. I will come to find you. So I am sending you a Shepherd to look after you and love you. To carry you home to me. You've been stumbling around, like people in a dark room. But into the darkness, a bright Light will shine! It will chase away all the shadows, like sunshine. A little baby will be born. A Royal Son. His mommy will be a young girl who doesn't have a husband. His name will be Emmanuel, which means "God has come to live with us." He is one of King David's children's children. The Prince of Peace. Yes, Someone is going to come and rescue you! But he won't be who anyone expects. He will be a King! But he won't live in a palace. And he won't have lots of money. He will be poor. And he will be a Servant. But this King will heal the whole world. He will be a Hero! He will fight for his people and rescue them from their enemies. But he won't have big armies, and he won't fight with swords. He will make the blind see; he will make the lame leap like a deer! He will make everything the way it was always meant to be. But people will hate him, and they won't listen to him. He will be like a lamb -- he will suffer and die. It's the Secret Rescue Plan we made--from before the beginning of the world! It's the only way to get you back. But he won't stay dead--I will make him alive again. And, one day, when he comes back to rule forever, the mountains and trees will dance and sing for joy! The earth will shout out loud! His fame will fill the whole earth--as the waters cover the sea! Everything sad will come untrue. Even death is going to die! And he will wipe away every tear from every eye. Yes, the Rescuer will come. Look for him. Watch for him. Wait for him. He will come! I promise. Love God.
Does not that sum up the book of Isaiah?! I think she did a wonderful job!

So what do I think of The Story of God's Love For You? I really love Sally Lloyd Jones' work. I do. I loved it when it was originally published as The Jesus Storybook Bible, and I love it as The Story of God's Love For You. (The lack of illustrations is the difference between the two).

Resources for readers who want MORE after reading The Story of God's Love For You:

For upper elementary through middle schoolers, I'd recommend either the NIV Jesus Bible published by Zondervan OR the ESV Following Jesus Bible published by Crossway.

For middle schoolers through high schoolers, I'd recommend either the NIV Student Bible published by Zondervan OR the ESV Student Study Bible published by Crossway.

For high schoolers through adults (of all ages), I'd recommend the following:

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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