We sat around in a circle on the tile floor and read stories about animals, about shapes, about very hungry caterpillars. We laughed and we looked at the pictures and we worked on sitting properly and listening well. The stories about lions and bugs and princesses were always hits, but it never failed that every time we sat down one of the children pointed at or tried to grab one particular book. They would say “Auntie, I want that one! Auntie Sarah, I want to see Jesus!” They would grab that book and tell me “This one!” and ask to see the pictures and hear the stories.
What book is this magical favorite? It’s this beautiful book I love, that I hope they are learning to love too. It is the one that tells me of a Hero who loves the little children and gives himself for them, a Creator who walks daily with his created beloved ones, a man who is God and who poured himself out. It is the precious Bible. It is a particularly lovely version of it called The Jesus Storybook Bible. For me, it was a gift from my sweet friend Leigh. She is a preschool teacher and must have known how much littles (and their aunties/teachers) love this beautiful book. It is one of the most beautiful children’s versions of the Bible I have ever seen. The kids here love it—the pictures, the way it’s written. And more than that, they love the stories and they ask for them over and over again. They try to grab it out of my hands because they want to see Jesus. They can barely sit on their cabenas (bottoms) for the desire to point to Jesus on the page, to show their friends, to see this mysterious majestic One.
We read stories of creation and the fall, of prophets and princesses, of soldiers and fishes. They enjoy them all, but they beg for the ones about Jesus. They want to hear especially how he welcomes the little ones to Him and how He heals the sick and cares for the poor. They want to see Him on the cover, to hear about Him inside the pages, to ask about Him after the story and all throughout. And how can I deny them?
It delights my heart and convicts me—do I long to see my Jesus, to know my Jesus within the pages of His Word as much as these little ones do? Do I understand simply the beauty and mystery of the love of Jesus for me? Do I deeply yearn for just a glimpse of Him, for a whisper of His voice? As much as the children love that book, I want to love it. We always saved it for last when we read in preschool time, for we wanted to save the best for last…but maybe we should have read that first. And more. And over and over.
I started reading it to the children at Ekisa last night. I think it will be our bedtime ritual now. They gathered around me on the couch and all strained to see the pictures and hear the story. They pointed to the ocean and the mountains, the lions and the peacocks, the people and the sun and the planets, the creations of our God’s hands. They looked at them in awe and delight. They asked for more stories. I promised them another tonight. And this morning the first thing one of them told me, not even five minutes after waking up, was “Auntie, want story!”
It is such a precious story. The song of the Creator, singing to his beloved…the love letter to each of us. I hope I wake up and think, “Jesus, I want a story!” and that I open these pages full of life and let them sing to me and pour over me and fill my longing heart like these children do. I want these stories to fill my thoughts during the day and make me ask questions and teach me how to walk this journey of life and faith. Make my heart like these little ones Lord. Let it cry out “I want to see Jesus!” and open my eyes to see and hear more and more.