Later, she told me that she thought if she tried not to be her, she wouldn’t get in trouble.

It broke my heart. And I wished she had a book to read before school to hear what God says about her not what those bullies were saying about her. So I thought I better write one—it’s called THOUGHTS TO MAKE YOUR HEART SING. And so it became a book of hope for children.

Children look to us for everything. But in all that we’ve given children, have we forgotten to give them hope?

Have we left them in despair—looking at what they should do but don’t? Looking at who they should be but aren’t?

How do we give hope to children?

When we take the focus off them and put it back on God where it belongs.

When we tell them truths like:
    •    God holds the oceans in the palm of his hand. If he can hold the oceans, he can hold you. (p.106)
    •    If God cares for the tiniest sparrow—how much more must he care for you, his child? (p.152)
    •    If Jesus can calm a storm on a lake, he can calm the storm in your heart. (p.181)
    •    God sees not just who you are—but who is going to make you. (p.145)
    •    Faith isn’t just you holding on to God. It’s God holding on to you. (p.127)

We give hope to children when we tell them what matters most.

They don’t need to be told to try harder, believe more, do it better. That just leaves them in despair. The moral code always leaves us in despair. We can never live up to it.

No. We don’t need a moral code.

We need a Rescuer.

When I go into churches and speak to children I ask them two questions:

1. How many people here sometimes think you have to be good for God to love you?

They tentatively raise their hands. I raise my hand along with them.

And 2. How many people here sometimes think that if you aren’t good, God will stop loving you?

They look around and again raise their hands.

These are children in Sunday schools who know the Bible stories. These are children who probably also know all the right answers—and yet they have somehow missed the most important thing of all.

They have missed what the Bible is all about.

They are children like I once was. I thought God couldn’t love me because I wasn’t doing it right.

How do we help? What can we do?

Teach children the Bible is not about them.

The Bible isn’t about them and what they should be doing. It’s about God and what he has done. It's not a book of rules telling you how to behave so God will love you. It’s not a book of heroes giving you people to copy so God will love you.

The Bible is most of all a story—the story of how God loves his children and comes to rescue them. And in spite of everything, no matter what, whatever it cost him—God won’t ever stop loving his children… “with a wonderful, Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” The Jesus Storybook Bible

Are we telling children The Story—or teaching them a lesson?

My niece didn’t need another lesson.

What she needed to know was that she is loved—with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.

What she needed was to be invited into the Story. What she needed was to meet the Hero of the Story. And become part of His Magnificent Story.

Because the rules don’t change you.

But a Story—God’s Story—can.  

 

Sally Lloyd-Jones is the bestselling author of Thoughts To Make Your Heart Sing, a children’s devotional, which won the Christian Book of The Year award in adult inspiration. She is also the author of The Jesus Storybook Bible, which is now available in a format for all ages with a new design and title: The Story of God's Love for You. This article was originally published on Sally's blog. © All rights reserved.

The image for this post was created by Jago Silver for The Jesus Storybook Bible. The picture was used with permission. Find out more about Jago and his work at www.jagoillustration.com.