Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"When God Made You" Book Review

My heart has a soft spot for children's books.  So when I have the chance to read a new one I take it. Partly because I'm always looking for good books to read to my grandchildren, partly because I love giving books to kids as gifts, and partly because I really enjoy reading them myself.

The latest book I've looked at is "When God Made You" by Matthew Paul Turner, illustrated by David Catrow.

This book has a fun quality to it that definitely stirs the imagination.  The message throughout the book is that God makes each of us as unique individuals, thinks about every detail of what makes us that unique person, delights in each one of us, and has a part in His story for every person He creates. Turner puts it so beautifully in his words:

"That you - yes, YOU - in all of your glory, bring color and rhythm and rhyme to God's story."

The story encourages children to discover and explore the world around them, and use the talents and passions that God has given them to make a difference.  It encourages imagination, creativity, and love for one another.  It's rather empowering and encouraging to children, giving a message of love, hope, joy and kindness.

The illustrations are a bit unusual, but colorful, rich, lavish, and fun.  Catrow uses a unique style of his own to bring across the visual splendor of the book that was unexpected, but grew on me as it continued.

My only concern while reading the story is that Turner writes things like:

"You, you, when God dreams about you, God dreams about all that in you will be true."

"You being you is God's dream coming true."

"Over YOU, God was smiling and already dreaming."

My wish is that the author would have used more biblically accurate words instead of dreaming like:  

"When God thinks about you, God thinks about all that in you will be true,"  
"You being you is God's plan/desire coming true," 
"Over YOU, God was smiling and already planning."  

It may seem a silly thing, especially when you consider the fun rhyming that is throughout the book, and it may even seem a little technical.  But when I read the word dreaming, I thought to myself, "Does God dream?  Where in the Bible does it say God dreams?"  When I consulted a few resources about it, I found nothing to verify that God dreams.  We know that God creates all things, and that He has a plan, purpose, and desire for our lives.  But when you replace plan, purpose, and desire with the word "dream", it places God in the light a bit less than Who He Is.  It places Him in the light of a dreamer, who really doesn't have full control over what happens in our lives, and removes His status of Sovereign Creator and Lord.  And that is where I have a problem.  God isn't a dreamer.  He is our Creator, our Maker, Lord of All, and definitely in full control.  

Now, having said that, I can see where it appears harmless to use the word "dream" in place of these other words.  Perhaps Turner thought that children could relate to God better if they thought God was dreaming about them.  Perhaps God really does dream about us before He creates us.  I don't know that He doesn't necessarily dream about us before He creates us.  All I know is that God didn't reveal anything about His "dreaming" anything in the Bible, and that's all the authority I have and need in which to defer.

My point is, that when we are reading stories to children about God and His nature, we should be very careful about the words we use.  We want children to know God makes them with pride, thought and joy.  That they are all incredible individuals God created, that He delights in them, and that they have purpose in His plan.  The overall tone of this book does indeed have a beautiful, wonderful way to encourage children to be bold, brave, creative, unique individuals.  That part I dearly love.  But with the use of the word "dreamer", I'm hesitant to read this to a child.  If I did end up reading the book to any child for some unknown reason, I would have to explain that God is not a "dreamer", and would have to tell them that the other words like - thinks, plans, creates, desires, and hopes - are a better way to describe God.  Because I want them to have the reverence for God that He deserves, and requires, and I want to stress to them that God really IS in control and always watches over them.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  My only wish is that I could give it a big thumbs up because the overall tone is wonderful.  Unfortunately, I really can't because God is not a "dreamer".

I give this one a "proceed with caution and discernment", with the forewarning of the need to reinforce the true nature and status of God in His full sovereignty should you decide to add it to your collection.

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