Cover Story

Roald Dahl’s children’s books are in the news at the moment here in the UK, following the decision by the publishers, Puffin, to soften, or water down, the way Dahl described some of his characters. Personally I never came across Roald Dahl’s stories until my children were little, but when I think of my own childhood, there is one book that particularly comes to mind.

It was a secondhand, hardback book with a dull, grey cover. My mother had bought it for me in a jumble (rummage) sale. I sadly admit that I wasn’t that grateful. Don’t get me wrong, I loved reading, but to a young boy of nine years old, it looked totally boring. It’s obvious that I’d never heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

Eventually my mother persuaded me to give it a try. It was a mystery story for children, written by Enid Blyton, the Agatha Christie of children’s literature. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it; in fact one review describes the book as: “… truly dazzling. Blyton interweaves fantasy and reality, past and present, to create a haunting and unforgettable story.” How wrong I was!

That all happened years ago, but there is another book, with a number of authors, which is regularly judged by its cover today. Many people have a view on it, even if they’ve never read it. In fact some people base their lives on what they think is in it, without having read it for themselves! It is, of course, the Bible. The media like to portray it as a large, leather-bound tome, written in language that even Dickens would have found old-fashioned. But that’s far from the truth. Today most Bibles are in modern-English (and other languages), and in various sizes and colours. But when you know your way around the Bible, it’s the content that’s so captivating.

It’s a love story between the Creator and His people. It describes the creation of a perfect world, why things changed, and how time will end and eternity will begin. It contains history, poetry, prophecy and letters. It tells how God Himself visited this world to teach us how to love each other, and it describes His plan to rescue those for whom this world is not enough. It also contains many wonderful promises, for example:

“I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:9-10

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”

Psalm 34:18 (NLT)

and some great challenges:

“Those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.”

Luke 14:11 (GNT)

“Be strong and brave. Don’t be afraid … Don’t be frightened. The Lord your God will go with you. He will not leave you or abandon you.”

Deut. 31:6

Finally, one tip if you decide to dip into the Bible for yourself. Unlike most books, try starting two-thirds of the way through, with one of the life stories of Jesus, such as Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. It will help you to make sense of the rest.

Take care, and happy reading!

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