I enjoy teaching Bible stories to children because I get to put flesh on the skeleton stories of Scripture. I love making verses come alive – to see understanding light up in a child’s face when those words become more than merely print on an old page.
The Bible is not a book of disjointed stories, though. It’s one story – the Story of Redemption. The entirety of Scripture points to Jesus. You can hear His voice and see His footprints and fingerprints all over every book of the Bible. The Bible is not about people – our goodness or even our plight. It’s not even a continuous story about the chosen Jews; it’s about Jesus.
Many Bible stories take only a paragraph or less to tell. We don’t get background information, physical descriptions, or even follow-up in most cases. I’m thinking specifically of the Gospels – the people that got to meet Jesus in person. We’ll read about being “blind from birth”, having leprosy, been “bleeding for 12 years”, or was a beloved Centurion. We read about their brief encounter with Jesus… and we move on.
Ultimately, those quick verses are meant to point us to Jesus. They’re meant to bring glory to what He did, not who these people were or how they ended up afterwards. If the Bible spent too much time on extraneous facts, we’d completely miss the point of Jesus Himself.
However, God also gave us an imagination. He gave us history, facts, and cultural clues that help us fill out the skeletons of these stories. We are able to put what could be flesh and features to them and in so doing, we can more fully understand what happened. Filling in the blanks helps us relate to the people we could easily skim over in our reading of stories we’ve known since childhood. It helps us see that we are not so far removed from Bible characters and heroes of the faith. When done well, these fully fleshed out stories even draw us closer to Jesus, not distracting or giving glory to the people of the Bible, but continuing to give the honor back to the to Whom it’s due.
This is one of my personal favorite ways to write. I’ve touched on Legion, the woman with the blood issue, and Mary Magdalene in my blogs, as well as many others in Bible lessons for church. So when I found out about a book being released in July entitled Remarkable Faith, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it!
Shauna Letellier did not disappoint. Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the privilege of reading an advance copy and getting to know Shauna and her heart behind writing this book. She covers a variety of miracles from the Gospels, focusing on the people whose faith Jesus Himself marveled at. Take for instance the paralytic whose friends brought him to Jesus. This is a classic story I’ve taught many times in church, but honestly, I’d never thought extensively about the paralytic’s life before he was healed. Shauna described his situation in a way that made it easy to picture a paralyzed man in a lonely house, waiting for someone – anyone – to come help him with his most base of needs, unable even to swish the flies from his bedsores. Puts the story in a different light, doesn’t it?
What I loved most about the book was how Shauna helped me see myself in each of these people that are merely a blip on the pages of Scripture. These were not random people plucked from Israel who just happened to run into Jesus. These were people with names, lives, stories, needs… and faith. It was their faith that set them apart and landed them in the Gospels.
But, it wasn’t always the pretty, perfect faith that we find ourselves usually striving for. It was a weak, helpless, panicked faith. And Jesus marveled at them. If He can marvel at them, maybe He’ll marvel at me, too, because I’m certainly at least as broken as they were, if not more so.
While there are many quotes I would love to share from her book, I leave you with one of my favorites, from the chapter on “Panicked Faith” about the mother of the demon possessed little girl:
The mother was a worshipper of the false gods. She gave and they took. She pleaded and they tricked. She came but they rejected her. So God appointed a divine collision of a panicked woman rejected by her tricky “gods” and the Savior rejected by his people…She heard he was different, a kind master, so if she must sit under the table, as a little pet of the family, at least she would belong to a good God…She is the willing recipient of anything he would offer her, whether it be a day in his courts, a position as a doorkeeper, or crumbs from his table…
…We must run to him sweaty and panting, screaming for rescue from the demands of abusive false gods. To come to him panicked, without depending on anything we’ve done, is remarkable faith.
This post was inspired by the book Remarkable Faith: When Jesus Marveled at the Faith of Unremarkable People by Shauna Letellier. Preorder and submit your receipt details at http://shaunaletellier.com/books/re… by July 10th to receive a Discussion Guide, phone lock screens, and the R.E.A.D the Bible guide.