Saturday, February 23, 2008

On reading the story of Jonah for the 342nd time

Adam and I are incredibly thankful that our child loves books. Katie loves to grab a book and plop down in our laps or sit "beside you" on the sofa (as she likes to say). Some of her favorites include "George" (as in the Curious one), Madeline, and Cordoroy. She also enjoys reading out of her different children's Bibles and has some definite favorites from those (Zaccheus, Noah, and, oddly enough, Jesus turning the tables over the in the temple).

None of these even begin to compare, however, to her love for the story of Jonah. I'm not really sure when it began, sometimes around her birthday, I think. During Christmas, Katie's Grammy happened to have several book versions of the story around the house, and countless times a day Katie would grab one, find an adult, and say, "Read Jonah" in a very emphatic voice.

Her love for the story of Jonah stuck, and even now she mentions Jonah at least once a day. The funny thing to me is that it's not even the story of Jonah from one particular story book. She likes them all! The one she prefers right now though is from the Rhyme Bible Story Book. This is a great children's contains many, many stories from the Old and New Testament and is theologically faithful unlike many other children's Bibles. Best of all, every single story is written in rhyme! This makes the stories easy to remember, fun to read and easy to turn Bible stories into raps (which is why Adam likes it). It's pretty darn amazing that someone could actually rhyme much of the Bible!

All that to say, in the last three months, I honestly think I've read the story of Jonah (in various forms) at least 300 times. While having a diet that consists mostly of children's literature can sometimes become a mental drain, there is something to be said about the value of repetition. The fact that I read every book of hers ad nauseum encourages me to pick good books for her! Plus, when it's Bible stories I'm reading over and over again, it can become a form of meditation and reflection.

For example, after reading about Jonah 232 times, I know for certain that God is God of mercy.

-God wanted to have mercy on the people of Nineveh. That's why He sent Jonah to preach...and why Jonah didn't want to go!

-When Jonah told the crew to throw him overboard, I'm not sure if he was expressing repentance. I think he was still trying to escape from God...even at the cost of his life!

-In spite of all that, God prepared a fish to swallow act of mercy!

-God mercifully gave Jonah a second chance to obey His command. And as the Rhyme Bible Storybook puts it,
"Jonah was relieved
When he saw what God had planned.
The fish threw him up
And tossed him on the land.
God said to Jonah,
'I want them to repent,
So go preach to Nineveh.'
And this time Jonah went!

One final's always interesting to do a Goggle image search for a famous Bible story...