“If…” It is a really big word to have so few letters. We so often try to tell our girls not to “what if” things. It can send your heart in the wrong direction so easily and lead us toward discontent.
But, “what if” it could also lead us to greater understanding and appreciation? This is just where David Nicholson takes us with his wonderful retelling of Nan Weeks’ classic Christmas story If He Had Not Come, originally published in 1938.
David Nicholson reintroduces the story of Bobby after hearing it himself over thirty years ago. The story had such an impact on him that he wanted to share it with the world once again.
Mr. Nicholson brings us to Bobby’s home on Christmas Eve. Excitement and joy fill the air as the family reads the Bible together. After going to bed, Bobby reawakens to find a world in which Jesus had never existed. So much changed and so much gone, Bobby realizes that the best presents are not found under trees or in pretty packages. Jesus is a wonderful gift that changed the world.
This enchanting story captivated the girls. I often found them reading this story or studying the pictures in the book. It has been read a number of times already and I have plans to incorporate it into our Christmas book traditions. It fits right in with our goals of being servant-minded Christians.
The illustrations by Charles Jaskiewicz are sure to become classics, as well. They are beautiful and do a lovely job of supporting the text. The girls noticed right away that as Bobby entered the world without the light of Jesus, Mr. Jaskiewicz muted the colors of the world. It added a lot to the reading of the story.
Included in the book are discussion questions about the story. These are appropriate for families, teachers and Bible class teachers and help highlight the purpose of the story. There are also some thought provoking ideas that help you dig deeper into the meaning of the book and ways in which you could allow the book to impact you.
The title of the book and story come from the Bible, from Jesus’ words in John 15:22. While it was never suggested in the discussion section to look up the verse and read it in context, and the verse was not shared fully in the story anywhere, I believe it is highly imperative that you look it up and read it. The context of these words in the verse and the broader context of the words of Jesus make the purpose of His words here more important. It makes sin, illustrated in the book, more obviously a choice people make and Jesus coming to earth to redeem us from those sins a choice He chose because He loves us. This is important for children to see and understand.
Jesus came to redeem a lost world and we see this lost world illustrated in the story. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He gave us His word in the written form of the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17) so that we could more fully know Him and understand what we must do for salvation. Mr. Nicholson includes a page titled “The Gospel Message” at the end of the book and on his website. It shares a simple plan but it is not scriptural salvation. To receive salvation from God, it is clear in God’s word that we must be baptized for our sins to be washed away, removed (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38; Acts 22:16). Mr. Nicholson leaves out this very important step. Praying a prayer for Jesus to remove your sins is a step toward acknowledging your sin but it does not fulfill what God tells us in His word is required of us to be given His gift of salvation. It is necessary for anyone reading this book or visiting this website to recognize that this incomplete plan is included so that they are not steered wrong and can act accordingly when sharing this book with others.
If He Had Not Come is a beautiful, hardback book. It is available for purchase from http://www.Davids-Treehouse.com/ for $18.95. It is also available in ebook format for $3.99. While the vendor suggests age 6 and up for this book, I personally feel that it is appropriate for all ages. Some of the discussion may need to be modified for a younger family member but I cannot see any reason to not include all ages with this magnificent, vivid story. It will certainly be wrapped for our Christmas tradition this year. At Home.
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