“It isn’t Narnia, you know,” sobbed Lucy. “It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are – are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
The above quotation is emblazoned upon a gigantic piece of wood hanging above our sofa. It calls out to the home educator in me, inspiring me to hold fast to this commitment I have made to fill my children’s minds with as much good as I can while they are under my roof. For over a decade I’ve brought stories into our home, of good triumphing over evil, of light quenching darkness, of redemption and reconciliation and hope. And I do so in faith, that God will use them to capture my children’s hearts, making them brave and excited for Kingdom work.
I know I’m not alone in this quest. One of my favorite things about social media is the community of Christian parents in various places who are joining together to raise up godly kids. The awesome booklists are a definite bonus.
But I have a question for my fellow Kingdom bookworms, and it is one I am often asking myself: in our passion to read all the edifying books to our kids, are we also faithfully upholding THE Book? The Word of God, where our Father has revealed Himself in over a thousand glorious pages?
When my children were very young, I was reading Sarah Whitcher’s Story to them. And as we read about the Whitcher family’s nightly routine of reading the Bible, my heart squeezed up with convictional longing. I had read devotional books and picture book Bibles to my kids. I had read random Bible verses when the need arose. We had even memorized verses. But sitting down and reading the Bible like the Whitcher family? Not so much.
That very night, we changed that. Tucking in two pajama-clad preschoolers and gathering a toddler into my lap, I opened the Bible and started reading from John. Their enthusiasm blew me away, two little children asking for chapter after chapter until they were sound asleep. And so began a new bedtime routine. New babies came and that routine eventually shifted, but our time in the nursery with whole books of the Bible taught me something: this very Good Book that was enough for the Whitcher family…it could be enough for us, too.
Now, is this me saying that we should do away with all stories and keep only the Bible in our homes? Nay, I am not; if an evil dictator was trying to do away with children’s books, I’d be hiding as many as I could behind the drywall. But the Bible should be supreme, and that’s actually one of the things God requires of parents:
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7 ESV)
Martin Luther was speaking about the church fathers, not fiction, when he made the following statement in his Open Letter to the Christian Nobility, but I think it can wonderfully apply to our discussion today:
“The writings of all the holy fathers should be read only for a time, in order that through them we may be led to the Holy Scriptures. As it is, however, we read them only to be absorbed in them and never come to the Scriptures. We are like men who study the sign-posts and never travel the road.”
These stories that we love, about rabbits with swords and lizard-slaying siblings and worlds that a lion sings into existence, they are the sign-posts. They have a glorious purpose. But God forbid we get so absorbed with studying them alone that we never arrive at the destination toward which they point.
I was recently reading the gospels, and these words about Christ struck me: “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.” (John 13:1 ESV) Do you know the first thought that popped into my mind after I read those words?
“My place beside you, my blood for yours. Till the Green Ember rises, or the end of the world!”
It made me smile, because THIS is why we love the sign-posts so much, isn’t it? They find their source and resonance in the gospel, the story that is very much real and very much forever. And so I have two things for you:
First, some encouragement. Prove that the Good Book is supreme. Pick it up and read it like it’s actually a book and not a fortune cookie dispenser. Read a whole epistle in one sitting. Read big chunks of it aloud to your children. Play it over the speakers, and not just on Sunday. I can’t speak for Aslan, but I’m pretty sure he is counting on us to ensure our children know the God he represents, and that they know Him from His own book. It’s why we were brought to Narnia, remember? The plaque on my wall says so!
And second, an invitation. This past year, I have been one of thousands to follow a Bible Reading Challenge issued by the members of Christ Church in Moscow, Idaho (fun fact for my fellow children’s book fans, this is the church home of N.D. Wilson!). It has been a year of unrivaled growth, and one I will forever cherish. And with the challenge coming to a close in the next weeks, a new opportunity is upon us: the Summer Bible Reading Challenge, which focuses on the New Testament only, with a more relaxed and summer-esque pace of reading. And this is where YOU come in!
We want to get as many people reading the New Testament as we can, and we want YOUR family to join us! It’s called “Same Page Summer”, and the idea is that, whether we are on the same page theologically or a part of the same denomination, we will literally be on the same page of the Bible. My husband and I will be doing the challenge with our children, and nothing would make us happier than knowing your family would be there alongside us.
I’ll be back to kick-off the challenge with some ideas and encouragement, but mark your calendars now! It starts on June 3rd, and you can find all the information you need to get started here: https://www.christkirk.com/biblechallenge/. You can share your progress on social media with the hashtag #samepagesummer, and I am already looking forward to seeing how the families of Story Warren will put those holy imaginations to work to make this challenge extra fun and memorable.
The summer will pass quickly, as summers do, but imagine ending this one with an entire testament of God’s Word completed. You will KNOW Him better! And I’m pretty sure that will only make Aslan dearer than ever.
Featured Image: Extract of Title Page of the Gospel of John by Sargis, from Metropolitan Museum of Art