In the day and age in which we live, it seems more important than ever that our children and grandchildren have a deep understanding of the big story of Scripture. In the next two blogs, we will look at the different parts of the gospel plot line. Here we consider Creation and Fall, terms that can be interchanged with beauty and brokenness.
It’s important that we use simple terminology when speaking about the gospel with young children. But at the same time, we need to understand that they are probably processing more than we realize. It is imperative that we teach children the historical story, but just as imperative is giving them the explanation that they are living in this same story.
The Story Maker was created to meet children on their level and help them process the overarching story of Scripture as well as how their individual lives fit into it all. Let’s start with the importance of beauty and brokenness in developing a child’s understanding of God’s Story.
What joy we have in telling children how the world began and how God in His radical love created the universe and people and every living thing just the way it was supposed to be: perfect! There are many resources available that can help in explaining the beauty of God‘s creation.
Now, in addition to knowing the creation account, children must see that they are living in this part of the story also. Everything that they see around them came from a powerful, majestic, and loving God. From the caterpillar on the leaf to the amazing mountains and beautiful oceans, all are made by a kind Creator. The highlight of God’s creation was people. Every person is an image bearer of God, precious and beloved. No matter what socioeconomic background, nation or race, they are reflectors of God’s image. In light of the recent debate about immigration, as well as our ongoing struggle to value people who are different, we must share with our children that everyone is made in the image of God. We must help them see people through the lens of the gospel story. That is how we will spark in our children a desire to see all people find rescue in Jesus!
After the joy of creation comes the sad part of the story. It is important for children to understand how everything sad comes from trying to find happiness apart from God. It is vital that we help children understand the ramifications of Adam and Eve’s decision on all of mankind.
From an early age, children read and learn about sadness; only the gospel helps them understand the source of it all.
In a recent article at Time.com, children’s author Kate DiCamillo shared why we must not shy away from sadness when we speak to children:
“You asked how honest we, as writers of books for children, should be with our readers, whether it is our job to tell them the truth or preserve their innocence.
“Here’s a question for you: Have you ever asked an auditorium full of kids if they know and love Charlotte’s Web? In my experience, almost all of the hands go up. And if you ask them how many of them cried when they read it, most of those hands unabashedly stay aloft.
“My childhood best friend read Charlotte’s Web over and over again as a kid. She would read the last page, turn the book over, and begin again. A few years ago, I asked her why.
“‘What was it that made you read and reread that book?’ I asked her. ‘Did you think that if you read it again, things would turn out differently, better? That Charlotte wouldn’t die?’
“‘No,’ she said. ‘It wasn’t that. I kept reading it not because I wanted it to turn out differently or thought that it would turn out differently, but because I knew for a fact that it wasn’t going to turn out differently. I knew that a terrible thing was going to happen, and I also knew that it was going to be okay somehow. I thought that I couldn’t bear it, but then when I read it again, it was all so beautiful. And I found out that I could bear it. That was what the story told me. That was what I needed to hear. That I could bear it somehow.’ ”
When our children begin to understand the beauty of God’s creation, and especially in the people God created, they will love God more and appreciate and value people more. As they process brokenness and sadness in books and movies, on the playground, in class, in life and death, they will learn that by God’s strength they can bear it somehow. Such lessons are crucial for children to learn, as they are for us all.