As a child I could rarely put a book down. I frequently wondered who wrote the words that came alive in my imagination? Who could construct entire languages like Elvish, Dwarvish, and Black Speech? And who thought a wooden doll's nose could grow, or an elephant could fly, or a princess could escape from goblins using invisible string?
For some reason, I speculated that another story existed, behind each story I read. Similarly, G.K. Chesterton thought, "I had always felt life first as a story: and if there is a story there is a story-teller."
The Bible answers this curiosity for children (mini adults) and parents (grown up children).
Its sole author is known, who from the first word to the last provides an account of real peoples' lives. Their stories interconnect over hundreds of years, yet all point to one man who is very much alive. On every page readers are compelled to love and hate good and bad kings, queens, judges, warriors, teachers, doctors, and many others. Occurrences of storms, earthquakes, floods, fires, or total darkness can be shocking. Other times, heart-felt longings are stirred to hear angels sing.
To understand the Bible, parents and children must know they are no different than most described on its pages. More importantly, they cannot live fully without loving its author and his son.
The son travels far and wide, searching for his treasure chests, finding them often sinking at sea or in quicksand. A brave warrior and prince, he leaves his throne to find, rescue and glorify those his father loves. He's willing to die for them, and ultimately does, because he loves them, too.
But the story doesn't end there. The prince shapes the hearts and minds of many people. They tell others the good news, so much so that thousands of years later, his story is still told. Believers trust the author and his son, confident of their protection over their lives.
Like goblins or the Orcs of Mordor, however, many don't believe the author's story and hate him. Instead, they wrote their own books about make-believe people, excluding the prince who alone offers a free gift of grace and life.
This is why parents and children must wisely discern biblical truth from that which is false. Trusting in and accepting the son's gift results in transformed, purpose-driven living. His love enables believers to also love freely, and discover and best use their talents.
The son entrusts believers with vocations to encourage human flourishing. Through the renewal of their minds, under any circumstance, they can live without doubt, fear, discouragement or self-pity. Trusting the testimony of those before them and the author's promises, they live courageously.
They also anticipate the day when pain, loneliness and sorrow will cease. The day when disease, sickness, death, hatred, crime, and war are gone, and all wrongs are avenged and righted—forever.
In this way, the lives of believers unknown to each other, continue to bear witness to the greater story, which the author of life has not yet finished writing on peoples' hearts.
This column was originally published in The Washington Times.