I knew what Jesus looked like. His picture was on the back of my pocket mirror. I had won this trinket quite handily at Sunday School. Chipmunk cheeks chock full of Hubba Bubba bubble gum, I had blown more bubbles in one minute than any of the other third graders.
Never questioning the accuracy of this visage, I thought Jesus looked a bit like a hippie. His light brown hair fell in perfect, soft waves to his shoulders. He was looking slightly off to the side like one of those bad 70’s school photos. I think the artist was shooting for an angelic look, but instead, the sad, blue eyes just looked fragile.
Like a talisman of sorts, I took Jesus with me everywhere. I figured maybe He would make me a better person, so I kept Him in my book bag. I guess it didn’t work so well. One of my friends at the bus stop ticked me off, so I took a swing at her. My book bag was dangling from my swinging arm. Jesus had sharp corners, one of which connected squarely with my friend’s forehead. Her bleeding was considerable. After this lapse of control at the bus stop, I concluded that Jesus wasn’t as all powerful as I’d been led to believe.
Though I grew and learned over the years, I somehow clung to this vision of an anemic Savior. Jesus was a great guy and all, but He didn’t really have any sway over my day to day life. But, this Creator of mine knew how to change my faulty thinking. Much in the same way He reached people when He walked this earth, He caught my attention through story.
At the Loft this week, we are sharing our favorite books. For me this is easy. The stories that have profoundly impacted my view of who my God is are my very, very favorites.
Eli, by Bill Myers
The premise of this story is, what if Jesus were born in modern times? Who would He hang out with? Who would be the religious establishment that He would call out as hypocrites? Imagining Jesus in my world, wearing t-shirts and Levi’s; playing baseball at my neighborhood park with his buddies, was startling. I could suddenly see Him as a real person rather than some ancient robe-wearing hippie guy. The lingering perception of a milquetoast Savior who was forever disappointed in me began to dissipate.
The Circle Series, by Ted Dekker
This series, hands down, has had a more profound impact on my view of God than any other book I’ve read. (For those of you church ladies who gasp at such a bold claim, I give the disclaimer that this is excluding the Bible, of course!) Mr. Dekker’s story is an allegory of the Christian life.
God, in his story is called Elyon, which means Most High in Hebrew. Elyon is powerful, playful, and intimate with His people. I honestly cannot do justice to Mr. Dekker’s vision here. All I can say is that the thought of physically playing with my God, of singing and dancing and loving Him with complete abandon, of having worship be as natural as breathing, it all shook me to the core. For the first time in my life, I longed for Him.
I feel I can’t leave out a series that I am currently savoring. The Outlaw Chronicles, also by Ted Dekker has been the springboard for some major work the Lord has been doing this past year in my life. These stories are showing me who I really am, and how I have been finding my identity in so many wrong things. My identity is in Christ. Period. I am a beloved daughter of the Most High. I wrote a post describing this epiphany in more detail here. It may be the most important message I have ever shared.
I have read a great many books over the years. All sorts of great books on everything from Christian living to parenting to homeschooling. Psychology, medical, self-help; you name it and I’m probably in. But for me, it is definitely the stories that stir my imagination which impact my daily life most. And why not? Our Jesus himself made ample use of stories to get His points across. He created us with the gift of imagination, and what a grand and lovely gift it is!
Join us over at #theLoft. Share your favorite reads, and get some book ideas from an awesome group of ladies. Hope to see you over there!
Top photo by Naypong at freedigitalphotos.net.