Journeys of Faithfulness

     Presented by Apologia as a mother/daughter Bible study,  Journeys of Faithfulness, stories of life and faith for young christian women by Sarah Clarkson is my latest TOS Schoolhouse Crew Review. When I first read about Sarah Clarkson's newest book, I had just finished a Bible study about Paul was looking for a new one. This short book looked just right to fill in the gap until I found another in-depth study. At the time the table of contents grabbed my attention, and I thought that my 13 and 15 year old daughters and I could easily do at least two lessons a week based on the sample chapterI was most intrigued by the women of the Bible included in the study. Esther's story inspires me every time I read it, how a young girl followed God and helped impact Christians still today. Ruth also encourages me with her sacrificial love for her Mother-in-law. Mary & Martha, Mary the mother of Jesus, Esther, and Ruth are the women from Scripture focused on in this book. 

     After receiving it and actually reading it out loud with my girls, my opinion changed a bit. I learned as a young child not to add or take away from the Bible. Because of that, anytime I see Bible truths changed to fiction stories I pause to contemplate just what is taught by using those stories. I have to insert here that I had the opportunity to see the sample chapter linked above before requesting this book, and at that time my response was quite enthusiastic. It was in actually reading this out loud with my girls that I realized it seemed more like reading a story than reading Biblical Truth. It is an interesting story, but a fictionalized account of God's Word ascribing feelings and actions to women from the Bible that could be but might not be what actually happened.

     Sarah Clarkson offers her own commentary of the thoughts of Mary (and each of the ladies from the Bible in this study) that relate to the passages shared and to the love of Christ. Each unit based on Bible character includes a devotion and a Bible study. The first part of each chapter is written as a story. We read these together out loud. Following each story is a devotion based on the author's own life experiences. The devotions are obviously written in the author's voice filled with "I believe" and personal accounts. Though not based on the same story, the devotions build on themes shared in the stories. Next are the actual Bible study pages which share references to Bible passages and questions to help you dig deeper into the Word. Actual Scriptures are not quoted in the book. Each Bible study following each section is one to two pages with three to four references to Scripture verses. The Scripture verses referenced aren't from the women in the Bible stories but do build on similar themes. My girls and I did find it helpful to search for and read those related verses together, too. Each section ends with several blank lined pages of the "journey journal".

     "I believe she understood what drove the heart and actions of her Master because she had made it her life to study him. She sat at his feet and listened while the rest of the world ran crazily about him with a thousand conflicting desires. She cultivated a heart that was open to God. She honed her skills of looking, of listening, of knowing the Master. And in this way, I believe, she was one of the few that understood that Jesus is going to die." -excerpt from the final devotional in Part One, Mary and Martha, the author discussing Mary in chapter three.

     The stories shared in this book are engaging, interesting, and kept the attention of my daughters. They are, however, fictionalized versions of God's Word. For some, this is not a problem. For me, I want to teach the truth- and I KNOW that God's Word is true. Changing truth to fiction, in my opinion, trivializes it. I initially approached this book as a Bible study. If presented as short stories instead, I would be more quick to embrace it as entertaining reading. I never want to trivialize God's Word in such a way that my children question if it is true- just like other stories and myths that it is another bit of fiction to enjoy. As I read more and more of this book, the term "fan fiction" came to mind. I may not be understanding that term correctly, but I think it is taking one thing and  writing fiction from it. That is how these stories seem to me. I have enjoyed other Biblical fiction. The movie "One Night With The King is another example of an enjoyable fictionalized account of Esther. It does help us to imagine how it might have been. The version in Journeys of Faithfulness does that, too. This book is the first such story I've read that includes an account of Esther comforting a younger girl also forced into slavery in the castle.

     Though admittedly bothered by its lack of Biblical accuracy, as stories we all found the chapters in this book interesting. My girls shared: "I like it, but it is hard to know what is true and what is not." and "I like how the story showed what might have happened, but a lot of that is not in the Bible." Reading and discussing this book had the unplanned benefit of discussing how to know what is true- a topic we have dealt with in the past but not in quite the same way.

     This 232 page paperback book is currently available for $13.00 and is being marketed to girls ages 12 and up.

     References shared in this book are from Scripture and from one other book Practical Mysticism by Evelyn Underhill.
     Disclaimer: Apologia provided a copy of this book for the purpose of this TOS Schoolhouse Review Crew review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions shared are my own (and my girls'.)

     See what others from the Schoolhouse Review Crew shared by clicking here.

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