Updated: Nov 1, 2019
I think I have always loved Bible Stories. When I was a kid, my sisters and I loved to hear our Dad retell us Bible stories from his memory. He made sure to use lots of expression and to highlight the parts of the story that would resonate with us. As I got a little older, I liked to read our picture Bible. The illustrations gave faces to names and fuelled my imagination of what it was like to live back then. Once I was older yet, hearing the stories straight from scripture brought a new level of understanding—and plenty of questions. I began to sort through the more difficult aspects of the stories and understanding the history and culture.
As an adult, I still like to read the stories straight from the Bible. I also enjoy expanding my perspective through responsible Bible fiction. It's fun to see a familiar story through some else's eyes! Some of my favorite authors of Bible fiction are Francine Rivers, Lynn Austin, and Angela Hunt. I also have a long list of authors I still want to explore!
(Just for clarification. When I talk about Bible stories, I am not talking about fiction. I do not think that the men and women of scripture are fables, but real people who lived on this earth.)
There are many ways to enjoy the stories of the Bible, and all of them are relevant to different stages of our life. Some people frown on movies and novels about the Bible, but I believe the Bible is meant to be enjoyed in all kinds of ways! It's not simply a dry collection of moral stories where every story is summarized up with the command to “be good, or else!” There is both heart and emotion. The events rival the greatest literature. It's no wonder that the Bible has been inspiring artists of every medium for thousands of years. Not every Christian artform will agree with our own interpretation, but then again, I doubt every Christian person you meet does either.
I have fallen in love with Bible stories all over again through my recent studies and creative writing. I feel like I have grown both spiritually and emotionally through careful examination of Bible stories. I have found peace in pressing questions and have grown in compassion for other flawed Christians who can't keep it all together—people like me. I feel like there isn't a single Bible study that I can't connect to some adventure or mishap that men and women of the Bible dealt with personally. In the Bible, we have heroes and villains, kings and queens, wild prophets, average men and women, children, even animals woven into the plans that God has for all creation.
Every vice and virtue can be found in the pages of scripture. We find both inspiration and warning in examining the lives of people whose experiences are recorded for us to read thousands of years later. I find it incredible that when God inspired the content of the Bible, He didn't just lay out a list of bare rules. Instead, He filled the Bible with flawed humans who sometimes got it right, but more often stumbled in their faith and needed God's forgiveness and help. Through stories, He gave us a way to connect to this crazy thing called faith.
The stories are raw, unfiltered. They aren't a compilation of perfect people, they show what it means to be a follower of God amid our weaknesses. They show that though we are weak, He is strong. Though we are unfaithful, God is always faithful.
After reading through the Old Testament and seeing the people rise and fall from faith over and over again, we come to a greater appreciation of Jesus' life. David was a man after God's own heart, but he was also an adulterer and plotted a man's death. Abraham is called the father of the faithful, but we read many instances where his faith faltered. Moses, the one who spoke with God and relayed His commandments, didn't make it into the promised land. Jesus was the first to live the way God intended. He was the perfect Israelite, the perfect human. He gave God all the honor that was His due and lived a life of love and faith before giving himself up to the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. The story continues even after Jesus' resurrection, through the Spirit-filled church going out into the world with their message of life.
All aspects of the Bible complement and strengthen each other—the laws, poetry, prophecy, gospels, letters, and stories all build on each other. The laws teach us what God expects from us. The stories show us God's judgment and mercy. The gospels do more than just quote Jesus' teachings, they show him interact with people, and we get a window into Jesus' heart.
In every stage of my life, the Bible has unveiled new layers of meaning. Getting married and having children of my own has opened new depths of understanding. The Bible is incredible because no matter how many times you read it, you will always discover something new. Stories that once seemed flat now unfold themselves in light of experiences in my own life.
Many people learn the stories of the Bible in Sunday school, and that is awesome! However, we can't leave the stories behind in that stage of our life. As an adult, we will have new questions to ask the text, and we will discover new truths. Bible stories are truly a life-long experience!
I've written a few dozen short stories based on the Bible. For some people, the short stories resonate, and others are insulted by them. Some feel like I am being disrespectful or taking away from the Bible by retelling the stories in my own words. I want to say that Bible fiction, like Christian art, songs, poetry, plays, or movies, is simply a tool. Some people find it inspiring and encouraging, and other people don't. There's nothing wrong with either view! I grew up hearing stories told with a personal flair by my Dad, and I do not feel like that creative touch hampered my understanding of truth. His zeal encouraged mine.
Retelling stories can be more than entertainment! Challenge yourself to tell a story, say the story of Joseph, from your memory right now. Then go and read it. What did you get right? What did you forget? Did something jump out at you? This method of study can be a fun way to strengthen your comprehension and memory, and you'll always have that story in your head for the moment you need it!
If you enjoy Bible fiction, I have compiled 45 of my Bible Short Stories into a Bible Fiction Devotional called 'As the Stars', designed for lovers of Christian Fiction!
Each short story is followed by the source passages, plus story comments to help understand the context, give historical background, or fuel discussion. Get your copy today!