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Reading Differently


Daniel’s heart hurt as he listened to her daughter Annabel “read” the picture book, as her “reading” reflected some sad interpretations. According to Annabel, the book was about a poor mouse who’d been abandoned by its parents and found itself trapped in a large home. Angry, the mouse ran away from the home and found its way through the dark streets, where cats, dogs, and other dangers lurked, seeking to devour the little creature. Eventually, the mouse sobbed, blaming his parents for his loss. But by pushing through all dangers, the mouse finally ended up back at a beautiful home to live happily ever after. Annabel’s story seemed to fit the pictures so well, but its interpretation of them completely changed the story’s meaning.

“Do you want to hear what the story actually says?” Daniel asked gently. Annabel nodded, snuggling in her father’s lap to hear.

“Once upon a time, there was a little mouse. His parents didn’t know very well how to parent, and the little mouse found himself separated from them. But he didn’t need to worry. A little boy found him and began caring for him. The mouse had all it needed, but the mouse didn’t listen to the boy’s warnings about leaving the house. He disobeyed, slipping out of the house into the dangerous streets where he was chased by cats and barked at by dogs. Dangers lurked everywhere, and the little mouse found itself tired and hungry. It cried, wishing it had listened to the kind little boy who had rescued it. But you know what? The little boy hadn’t forgotten the mouse. He’d been pursuing him the whole time and now scooped him up and brought him back to his beautiful home.”

“That’s a very different story, isn’t it, Annabel dear?” Daniel asked as he finished.

Annabel nodded. It was amazing how the same pictures could be interpreted so very differently.

As I’ve been going through an ABC biblical counseling course, I’ve been reminded that the facts of our lives, like a picture book, can be interpreted very differently. Worldly narratives may seem to “fit” with the pictures of our lives. After all, every lie has a piece of the truth. But if we want to understand our lives correctly, we need to look at our lives in light of what God tells us about Himself, sin, suffering, and the Savior Jesus Christ.

Are we victims, or victors through Jesus Christ? Is our primary problem what others have done to us, our situations, or our own sinful hearts? Is suffering something that gives us an excuse to sin, or something God promises to work for good? Do we have to earn God’s love, or is it a gift in Christ Jesus? The answer to these and other questions makes a difference in how we see ourselves, others, God, and our situations.

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Revelation 3:17-18 (ESV)

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