Finding God in Picture Books

by Maureen Kasdorf

God has been teaching me many lessons about character and growth this year, and He has used many methods to train me. Lately, He has been showing me the story of Himself through the children’s book Corduroy by Don Freeman.

This book is the story of a little stuffed teddy bear in a big department store. This bear sat on the shelf day after day, waiting for someone to take him home. One day a little girl picked him up and asked her mother about buying the small bear named Corduroy. The little girl’s mother said no, adding, “Besides, he doesn’t look new. He’s lost the button to one of his shoulder straps.” Once Corduroy realized that he was missing a crucial piece of himself which would make him loveable, Corduroy set out to find the missing button. He encountered difficulties and distractions but could not avoid detection. Corduroy ended his quest in the strong arm of the law and returned to where he began, no more whole than before.

However, the next morning, as Corduroy’s eyes opened, there was the very girl who wanted him the day before! She hurried to purchase him and disregarded the saleslady’s offer of wrapping him up. The little girl, Lisa, “carried Corduroy home in her arms.”[i] When they arrived, Corduroy looked around at the place Lisa had prepared for him, including “a little bed, just the right size for him.” Then she gathered him in her lap and began to sew a button on his overalls. She told Corduroy that she liked him just the way he was, but that he’d “be more comfortable” with this strap fixed. The story ends with a picture of Lisa hugging Corduroy close to her and Corduroy saying, “you must be a friend. I’ve always wanted a friend.”

I see the story of God’s pursuing love for us in this classic children’s book. We are like Corduroy, waiting alone, desperate for someone to want us, to love us. Then often, like Corduroy, we take matters into our own hands. We listen to what others tell us about our flaws, or things that make us unlovable, and we go out to find a way to fix ourselves. We wander, we get lost, we end up distracted by the enormous and shiny offerings of the world. Most often these choices end up causing damage and leading to destructive and illegal behavior. None of those attempts to repair ourselves work and we end up right where we began, on that department store shelf, although perhaps in even greater despair.

But God does not leave us alone in our hurt and longing. God runs to us, like Lisa in the story, and scoops us up and says, “You’re the very one I’ve always wanted.” And He carries us in His arms and races home with us tucked up close to His heart. He shows us the place that’s been prepared for us and He restores us, like Corduroy’s button, to wholeness. God doesn’t need us to fix ourselves before He loves us, like Corduroy didn’t need to find his own button. God loves us just as we are. We don’t need to go trying to make ourselves more loveable. We already are so loved.

I am grateful for the many lessons I have learned from children’s stories. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says,

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”

Sometimes God is found in the stories for children, rather than the dissertations of the wise. Keep your eyes open for where you might see God today.

Dear God, thank you for using things we understand to teach us about yourself. Thank you for pursuing us and loving us, just as we are. Help us see your work all around us today. In Jesus’ name, Amen