Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing
Sally Lloyd-Jones & Jago
I bought Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing - a devotional by Sally Lloyd-Jones released in 2012 – for my 6-year old daughter for Christmas. We’re big Sally Lloyd-Jones fans around here, and I figured I would definitely have a review of it up by January at the latest. But I’ve had trouble getting it written: mostly because I just love it so much, I’m having a hard time getting past “I LOVE IT. PLEASE GO BUY IT NOW. THE END.”
But that’s not responsible reviewing, now is it? And if we take anything seriously around here at Aslan’s Library, it’s writing recommendations that help parents understand why we think a book deserves precious space on their shelf and in their child’s life. I’m guessing an all-caps-gush doesn’t cut it. So here’s my best go. I will keep the capital letters and exclamation points to a minimum, I promise.
An honest confession: this is the first “devotional” format book I’ve actually liked and consistently read with my daughter. And I’ve sorted through a number of them. (If there is one out there that I am missing, or that you can’t believe I didn’t love, do let me know in the comments!) There are no corny, moralistic stories; unbelievable kids who end each episode by perfectly displaying some biblical virtue; or patently misapplied Scriptural verses (Jeremiah 29, anyone?). That’s what Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing isn’t.
What it is is a series of daily meditations, gorgeously illustrated, that invites children to know the goodness and majesty of God, and his love for his broken and beautiful creation. There’s deep theology at work in these short pieces: the already-not-yet character of faith; a thorough and multifaceted explanation of Jesus’ atonement for us; God’s covenant with his people and its fulfillment in Christ. I especially appreciate Ms. Lloyd-Jones’ treatment of sin: nowhere does she gloss over its reality, even in the hearts of our children. She’s frank in giving kids words to understand their own wayward hearts:
What is sin? Sin is trying to get away from God who loves us – it’s wanting to go our own way without him. But the Bible says it’s not like simply wandering off the path and getting lost by mistake. It’s like a horse charging at full speed away from him. We want to get away from God that badly! We are like horses galloping headlong after the things we want.
And yet every meditation on sin (and there are multiple: any good devotional takes note of its persistent reality and addresses it likewise!) includes God’s final word on it: he can lead us back; he kept the covenant on our behalf; in Jesus, God finished the power of sin, although it is still dying a slow and ugly death.
Another repeated emphasis I loved, and wished I had understood as a child, is that even faith itself is a gift. Any parent of an anxious child (and I was one) should bookmark “Believing and Doubting”:
But, someone is saying, what if I can’t believe enough?…Our strong God is the one who rescues us – not our strong faith. Because faith isn’t just you holding on to God. It’s God holding on to you.”
But as rich as these meditations are theologically, they are – more importantly – lively, accessible, and gracious. Each and every one is shot through the the joyful realization of God’s radical grace. For all of its depth, this book is not a theological treatise. It’s an exuberant invitation to to know, love and trust the God who wildly, heedlessly loves us first; to find ourselves amazed and overjoyed at being created, found, redeemed, and included in God’s life.
So there you go. And now, because I can’t resist: I LOVE IT. PLEASE GO BUY IT. THE END.