From our house sometimes we can smell the ocean. We can’t see it—it’s a few blocks, a bluff, some train tracks, and a smattering of industrial buildings away—but when the wind hits the water just right, that salty, seaweedy smell whisks up the bluff to us. Whoever smells it first turns into the wind, smiling. The rest of us know what that means.
Those moments lift the roof off our little world and remind us that right over there, behind those houses, is an ocean. While the girls ride shrieking down the street on their bikes, and I wrestle with a stubborn weed and wish I had a sunhat and maybe a hacksaw, the ocean ebbs and flows out there, just beyond the bluff. I may not like swimming in it, but I have gone out of my way several times during quarantine to go park somewhere and just watch the water. I like to be reminded that it’s there.
So it is with a good story bible: sometimes a good one zooms out to just the right distance, allowing us to enjoy a single Bible story while still whisking in that breath of salty, sea air and reminding us that God always works at something bigger even in the smallest stories.
The Promises of God Storybook Bible is just such a story bible. Jennifer Lyell has taught preschool kids for decades and knows how to tell a Bible story winsomely. But she also links each one to the promises God made his people and traces, throughout the book, the big story of God’s plan for our redemption. She arranges God’s promises like plot points and shows how God answers those promises throughout Scripture (curious, though, that his covenant with David didn’t make the cut. I wonder why?).
We gave this book to Josie, our youngest, but when we read it aloud to all four girls we found that the tone was perfect for our six- and four year olds, but the discussion questions seemed to fit everybody. I was so grateful for this book during those first months of quarantine, when we needed more than ever to be reminded that God is still keeping his promises, whatever it looks like from our vantage point, in this moment. He is still present, even when we can’t see him, and sometimes he sends us small reminders and we lean into the wind, smiling.
The Promises of God Storybook Bible
Jennifer Lyell; Thanos Tsilis (2019)