A Time to Sit Crisscross Applesauce and Believe

Drawn to the Story of the Bible, Beyond its Do’s and Don’ts

Blake Nail / 7.6.21

It’s not often as adults that we find our legs crisscrossed as we sit down and listen to a story. In fact, some of us might find the proposition of sitting “crisscross applesauce” to be quite problematic, considering our aching and aging knees. But children do it often. Children are enthralled by story time. Not only that, but they find themselves engrossed with the story. They don’t get bogged down with whether a story is based on real events or not. The flying dragon is captivating to the young mind without a historical investigation into the reality of its existence. The question doesn’t even come to mind.

Adults partake in this phenomenon as well, but differently. Of course, we have the huge Marvel blockbusters that draw humongous crowds. But the naysayers are always there to come along and comments on how fake or unrealistic the stories are. There is something magical, however, about sitting in a dark theater on a comfortable reclining chair (I accept nothing less these days; who could go back to the non-recliner?) and watching a story unfold before your eyes.

On the other hand, when it comes to the Biblical text, we throw this out the window. The Biblical text is for sitting up straight and marking the important verses with a highlighter or red pen. It’s for those who will pay attention and make lists of what they should be doing and what they should be stopping. For those who are ready to make changes in their lives to please God. For those that will carry a serious tone as they discuss — those that are ready to learn about the lofty ways of the Almighty. Perhaps it’s the reason nine out of ten households (87 percent) own a Bible, but only 53 percent have read relatively little of it. Lifeway Research found that one in ten have read none of it, 13 percent have read a couple sentences and thirty percent have read several stories.

The statistics could go on and on, but it’s not hard to figure out that when it comes to the Bible, there’s a stereotype around it. Sometimes people think it’s a boring book. Others think it’s a just a bunch of rules. Some say they’ve tried and were confused, while others don’t think they need what it offers. Indeed, some of them might have a point. I’ve been confused while reading Scripture. I’ve read it as rules and thought I didn’t need to change. I’ve, dare I say it, been bored while reading the Bible. But those times when I am enthralled with Scripture are when I get lost in the story.

The author Philip Pullman puts it this way:

We don’t need lists of Rights and Wrongs, tables of Do’s and Don’ts: we need Books, Time, and Silence. Thou Shalt Not is soon forgotten, but Once Upon a Time lasts forever.

When Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Noah, David, and so on and so on become characters instead of models of morality to follow, I become interested. When Abel’s blood is spilt, and I don’t think, “I shouldn’t be jealous,” but rather look to greater blood spilt that cries out a forgiveness which covers me completely, I am drawn in. When Abraham goes to kill Isaac and sees the ram to take his place, and it’s not about how I need to be faithful like the almost murderer, I keep turning pages. And when I see a crucified and risen God-man, I see a story I’ve now been pulled into as opposed to a new morality I must assent to.

Jesus said it best himself: “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3).

So while we all may not be able to sit crisscross applesauce like we used to, we can still be drawn into a story. Then, it might be possible that we turn away from the human propensity to think of the Bible as a list of rights and wrongs or the morality standards we must meet. And it might be possible  to see we are a part of a story. One that’s been told for ages and will be for ages to come. And perhaps, we might just find this story is more than rules, boring ancient history, and pointing fingers. It just might end up being the good news you were hoping to hear all along.