Being a recent parent to a young child again, I am reminded of the tenderness in which we should teach our kids about the Bible. I love getting to sit with Ashley today, who accepted Christ at a young age and formed a first love with the word of God and the person of Jesus. My prayer is that all of our daughters (and sons) would also experience these sacred texts in this way. God’s Word never goes away, passes away or falls away —but is always given to show us The Way. And when there is an illiteracy of His Word, there’s a warped reading of everything. It’s a grace to welcome Ashley to the farm’s front porch today…
I was around 6 years of age.
And my family attended a small Baptist church outside the budding metropolis of St. Louis, MO.
I remember the building like it was yesterday. White. A big wooden cross on the front. There was an upstairs with nursery rooms and a sanctuary. The downstairs was filled with classrooms for small groups and discipleship.
It was summer.
I was attending Vacation Bible School this week, during this summer.
The theme of the year was “God’s Big Adventure.”
I got to carry in the Christian flag one day and was so honored to represent. I remember meeting new friends.
I remember playing games and learning about the character of God. His loving kindness. His grace.
I remember the second to last day and getting the opportunity to ask Jesus into my young, innocent heart. I was heart-bursting excited.
I’ve thought back on that day in my adult years wondering if I truly understood the magnitude of the decision I was making but I remember thinking and knowing my need of a savior, my need for Jesus.
My parents had divorced when I was young and though I knew their intense love for me, the wounds of a divided home had left a vulnerable spot for the love of a heavenly father to come in and make His home.
Shortly after VBS was over, my parents and pastor talked to me about getting baptized and sharing with our church family the decision I had made and the importance of coming forth publicly and making this declaration.
Now this might seem like an insignificant part of the story or that I am dragging out this time in a young Midwestern girl’s life, but this was of most importance because this also meant I got my first real bible. (With my name embossed on the front, of course!)
I knew the stories of the Bible, but I did not yet have my own personal relationship with the scriptures. I read this sacred text no differently than I would read other fairytales with heroic characters and plot twists galore.
During the first few years of my faith journey post VBS, the Bible was explained to me as a love story from God Himself.
This concept seemed so far off to me initially, this colossal divinity was writing to little ole me? In St. Louis, MO?
But as I studied God’s letter for myself and began to discipline myself in reading, even before my age was marked with double digits, I found time and time again that this was true; the Bible was constantly reminding me of God’s love for me in the words that He said about me and in the great acts of love He displayed.
“All other words evaporate, don’t take up space, don’t hold weight — but God’s Words hold more weight than heaven and earth, because they made heaven and earth and hold the weight of Glory and can rest in your hands, lodge in your heart, and resuscitate your heart.” ~Ann Voskamp
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Rom. 5:8
“But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
“But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…” Nehemiah 9:17
“‘Though the mountains be shaken, and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,’ says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” Isaiah 54:10
These scriptures are ones that pierced my heart at a young age, to truly know the love of God and to cling to that as I formed my identity throughout some really hard teenage years and well into my most formative years of early adulthood.
My love for the Bible and my desire to learn more about this man, Jesus, grew with each passing day.
“God’s Word is the only thing that never falls apart — and holds us when we are falling apart.” ~Ann Voskamp
And for a young girl, who at times, had a hard time knowing her worth and was looking for acceptance at every turn, this love letter, this wooing of the beloved, was exactly what she needed.
As we raise our children and teach them about Jesus and expose them to the Word of God, there are many options we have. Our friends at Zondervan have created the most fun and thought filled Bible when it comes to teaching our kids about Jesus and the lessons in the stories. They have tapped into that childlike adventure and wonder and along with fun characters take young people on a journey to discover the story of redemption through Jesus. All other words may be distractions, abstractions, or detractions, but God’s Word is always effective action.
The NIrV Seek and Explore Holy Bible is about engaging the child’s whole being—heart, soul, and mind. This Bible helps children understand God’s Word by utilizing the nine common ways that children learn: Logical reasoning; Visualizing; Discussing and debating; Learning with others and using interpersonal skills; Reflection or intrapersonal skills; Emotional engagement; Experimenting and doing; Kinesthetics; and Nature.
Join nine wild animal characters as they guide young readers through the story of God’s Word one step at a time. Read God — and you can read life: The NIrV Seek and Explore Holy Bible is the ideal stepping stone from storybook to full-text Bible — and it’s the Bible that our Littlest Girl calls her own and carries everywhere to “read”!
[ Our humble thanks to Zondervan for their partnership in today’s devotion ]