Among the dozens of devotional books available to parents, few are more than fluff and sentimental feed good stories. Fortunately, there are publishers like Apologia Press offering resources of substance that are truly useful for Bible studies and spiritual introspection.
Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson is one of those resources. My daughter and I curled up our chairs with fuzzy blankets and hot cocoa for some one-on-one time with this book, and we enjoyed it very much. We have no problem discussing spiritual and life issues throughout the day, but it is important to sit down and focus on how we can apply Scriptural principles and examples, and explore character and relationship conflicts from within and without.
Each section is an exploration of the lives of ’ordinary’ women from Scripture: Mary & Martha, Mary, the mother of Jesus, Ruth, and Esther. These are presented as fictionalized or dramatized versions of events, extrapolated from Scripture. This serves to remove the pedestal, if you will, and give these women flesh and blood so that their lives and struggles are more tangible. Let’s face it- we do tend to view Bible history and its people as little more than props, like flannelgraph figures. They are far removed from us by time and space. We sometimes forget about their humanity, and we certainly don’t enter into their hearts and minds and try to see events from their perspective. Sarah Clarkson does an excellent job of ‘fleshing out’ these ladies for us. These accounts are well-written and engaging. She has a good sense of story and pacing, and command of the language.
Of course, it is important, when discussing such stories with our children, to point out that the author is indeed taking the Scriptural account and making deductions and assumptions about the details of their lives, thoughts, and feelings.
Each chapter concludes with a few pages of the author’s personal experiences and insights, followed by suggested passages of Scripture with some thoughtful questions. These are all great conversation starters about serious issues such as defining priorities, trust and faith, suffering, the kingdom of God, the culture of beauty, and how to use our influence to glorify God.
There are also 3-4 lined journaling pages at the end of each chapter.
Whether you give this book to your daughter to read, or you read it together, I am confident of the positive benefits of considering the lives of women who lived in a different time and place, but still made choices based on their love for and faith in God.
Journeys of Faithfulness by Sarah Clarkson is recommended for ages 12+. It is available in glossy paperback at Apologia’s website for $13. Apologia offers many inspirational and educational resources at their website. You can also read more from Sarah Clarkson at her blog, Thoroughly Alive.