You know how you can read a Bible story over and over again, and sometimes you need to read it in a different translation or version to see something new?
One of my favorite ways to do that? Children’s bibles.
Yep. Children’s bibles. Good ones.
One of my family’s very favorites is The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Jago (Zonderkidz, 2007).
Sometimes (actually, often, for this one), reading a story in this Bible brings an aspect to light or emphasizes something I need to hear just at that moment. This particular storybook Bible also beautifully links every Old Testament story to the Christ of the New Testament.
For example, take the story of The Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9).
On Striving, and for the Wrong Reasons
In Genesis 11:4, we learn that the people wanted to build a tower that “reaches to the heavens.” So reaching the heavens was part of their goal. But we also learn the secondary reason: “… so that we may make a name for ourselves.”
God sees what they are doing and decides they must be stopped, so He “confuses their language” and creates new languages amongst a people who had once all spoken the same language.
The Jesus Storybook Bible offers this about their reasoning for the tower:
“We’ll be like God. We’ll be famous and safe and happy and everything will be all right.” – p. 50
Yes, as a storybook Bible, this is inferred, but it’s also grounded in what we know about us as humans and what the Bible has taught us about ourselves over our history.
Sometimes we forget. Sometimes we think we need to strive, to work, to scramble for safety, happiness, and some sort of goal that will bring us closer to God.
We think we must do it. That it’s all up to us.
The Jesus Storybook Bible continues:
“But God wasn’t pleased with them. God could see what they were doing. They were trying to live without him, but God knew that wouldn’t make them happy or safe or anything. If they kept on like this, they would only destroy themselves, and God loved them too much to let that happen. So he stopped their plans.” – pp. 50-51 (emphasis added)
This. This is something I think I miss when I quickly reread the story of the Tower of Babel when I’ve read it over so many times.
The people became arrogant, yes (don’t we?), and wanted more for themselves, yes (don’t we?).
But the main point to remember (and that this children’s storybook bible shows me)? It’s about God’s love.
What We Really Need
At Christmas, it’s so easy to fall into the trap of “we must to do this, we must make that, it must look like this.”
Or, in some cases, when Christmas can be a stressful time if certain family relationships are strained or toxic, it can feel like we have to fight just so hard for even a little peace and focus on Christ in the season.
We get tired over trying so hard.
One solution? Celebrate, instead of strive.
(Easier said than done, I know.)
Here’s where The Jesus Storybook Bible reminds us to celebrate:
“You see, God knew, however high they reached, however hard they tried, people could never get back to heaven by themselves. People didn’t need a staircase; they needed a Rescuer. Because the way back to heaven wasn’t a staircase; it was a Person.
People could never reach up to Heaven, so Heaven would have to come down to them.
And, one day, it would.” – p. 54 (emphasis added)
Heaven came down at Christ’s birth.
That’s what Christmas is for. To celebrate “heaven come down” and know that we are already loved.
Once we know that, feel that, remember that, we can share that celebration and love with others.
“For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” – John 6:38 (emphasis added)
For one small way to celebrate, please enjoy this free printable coloring page to do with your family! Click on the image below to open the file and choose “save as” to save to your computer and then print. Thanks to our friend, Ashley Taylor, for creating this printable!
(Please do not sell, edit, or host this printable elsewhere. It is a free gift for readers of Do Not Depart. Please do share a link to this post so others can find it, too!)
How do you celebrate at Christmas and share that celebration with others? What helps you remember if Christmastime becomes a strained time for you or your family? Please share and encourage each other in the comments!