Everyone has a story, but not everyone has their story straight.
Every single one of us has a story that helps us to make sense of our life. What if your individual story, though, is not the primary story that you should be looking to in order to find the true meaning of your life and make full sense of it? What if there is a story outside of your own that you should, in fact, be placing your story inside of?
That story that each of our individual stories find themselves within is the story of Jesus — The Gospel of the Son of God. His story is the ultimate story of the universe, the ultimate story that helps us make sense out of each of our individual, complex, complicated, and messy stories. And that story is THE unified, beginning-to-end story of the Bible.
A New Devotional
This is the idea behind a new devotional by Kristen Hatton, written to help teens find their story within this ultimate story. The devotional is titled: Get Your Story Straight: A Teen’s Guide to Learning and Living the Gospel. Hatton says in the introduction:
“You might have noticed that no matter how hard you try to make yourself feel happy, fulfilled, and worthwhile, you still struggle with dissatisfaction and emptiness. The solution is not to go have more fun, get out of your house, or change your situation; instead it’s to get your story straight. Living out of the true story — the story of the gospel of Jesus Christ — will change your life from the inside out” (1).
Hatton, a pastor’s wife and experienced leader of teen Bible studies, has written this very accessible, engaging, and well-grounded teen devotional aimed at helping teens understand the ultimate story — the Gospel of Jesus — and how it has and should impact every aspect of their lives.
The book consists of 3 parts:
- Getting the Story Straight
- My Life Mixed into the Story
- The Story in Me Lived Out with Others
Each part consists of around 17 chapters each. Each chapter represents an individual week — 52 weeks in all. Within each week, there are 5 days worth of devotionals, following the same pattern from week to week.
- Day 1 — Straight from the Word. In the first day of each week, a Bible passage is introduced. The student is to read the passage with care and attention, and answer a few questions designed to help them better understand what the passage is saying.
- Day 2 — The Word Applied. The second day always includes a short article/devotional, designed at explaining and illustrating the previous day’s passage.
- Day 3 — Straight to My Heart.
- Day 4 — Word and Deed. Days 3 and 4 are designed to ask probing questions to make the student think about the passage for the week, encouraging them not only to understand the passage, but to apply its truths to their heart and lives.
- Day 5 — Journaling and Prayer. Finally, each week concludes with a day focused on having the student reflect on what he/she has learned from the week’s passage, write out some thoughts, and spend some time in prayer, asking the Lord to help them apply it to their lives.
What I Liked
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m often not very fond of devotionals. The reasons vary, but pretty consistently I’ve found devotionals to be very surface-level, touchy-feely, and not very helpful in really getting the reader to better understand the story of the Bible and its individual passages.
I did not find this to be the case with this devotional. Here are a couple things I loved about this devotional.
- I like the layout of the devotional. Hatton has approached it with the conviction that focusing on 365 different passages throughout the year does not necessarily allow much interaction with and application of the text by the student. Instead, she chooses to focus on 52 different extended passages (1 for each week), and then have the student engage in various exercises that will help that passage drive home into their hearts and lives. While I think both approaches have their places, I love the idea of having the student spend a whole week dealing with a particular passage and theme and having time to “chew on it” and really understand it and apply it to their lives.
- Also, I love that the devotional truly helps students better understand the story of Jesus, and how the story of the Bible is one grand, overarching story pointing us to Jesus. Starting from creation, moving to the fall, and pointing to redemption ultimately brought to us through the cross of Christ, Get Your Story Straight continually points the reader back to the story of Scripture and helps the reader truly understand his/her story within the context of the larger story of Jesus.
I really believe that this devotional is going to be a big help to a few groups of people
- If you are a teenager, I believe that this devotional will be a great resource to you in better understanding the Gospel and how it applies to your life.
- If you are a youth pastor or youth leader in any way, consider getting a copy of this to give to some of your students, or lead a small group study going through the book.
- If you are a parent of a teenager, consider giving a copy of this to your child, and even offering to work through it with them, allowing you as a parent to lead your child in his/her spiritual development.
Whether you are a teenager, lead teenagers, or are a parent of a teenager, I would encourage you to grab a copy (or 3) of this book and give it to someone or work through it with someone. Anyone who thoughtfully spends time working through this book will truly better understand their story in light of the ultimate story of Jesus, and will thus better understand the Gospel and how it applies to every aspect of their life.
Now that’s the kind of devotional that I can get behind!
In accordance with FTC regulations, I would like to thank New Growth Press for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.