One of my concerns as a Bible class teacher of little ones (and as a parent) is for the children I teach to understand the Bible as history and not as fiction. Unfortunately, there are many people in the world, even some who consider themselves religious, who would argue that the stories in the Bible are fables. To counteract the influences of people in my child’s world who may try to undermine the Bible, I have done everything I could think of to reinforce the reality of the scriptures.
One of the easiest ways to help your child understand that the Bible is about real people, places and events is to continually tell them before you read or tell them a Bible story. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I even separated Bible story time from picture book reading times to create a boundary between the two types of stories.
If you have a child under the age of two, you are probably used to conducting a running monologue for your child about everything. You tell him what you see, you ask her questions and then answer them yourself and probably thoroughly amuse bystanders on a regular basis.
Studies have shown you are doing the best thing for your child. The more words your child hears from you, the faster he will develop his own language skills. The constant exposure to your words imprints them in your child’s brain. Eventually she starts to understand those sounds have meaning and the meanings can get her something she wants more effectively than crying. (Maybe that is why my daughter learned to talk so early. I never was very skillful at deciding which cry was for what!)
One of the things I appreciate so much about the Bible is how everything is connected to something else. The water of the flood and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea foreshadow our baptism. Many of the Jewish holidays point the way to Jesus Christ, the Messiah. God gave the Jews Passover to remind them how He delivered them from Egypt. It also foreshadowed the coming of the perfect sacrifice – Christ. Our baptism is a reminder of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection. It also helps us remember that we have put to death our old sinful self and risen a new creature in Christ.
I believe God understands we need markers in our lives to help us remember what is important. Just like those Route 66 signs with arrows help us stay on Route 66, markers can help us stay on God’s path. My baptism is a distinct memory from the moment I committed my life to Christ. When we take communion every week, it serves also as a reminder of the commitment we made to the Lord when we were baptized.
We are in the middle of a school break. Many of our friends are out of town. We stayed behind only because we leave town on a big mission trip in a few weeks. Vacations are a great way of connecting with the people who are important to us. Often we are able to see many of God’s wonders of creation as we explore the world on our travels. I even enjoy seeing the talents God has given people displayed in artwork and architecture.
I also know vacation is a time when many of us also take a vacation from God. We run around to the point of exhaustion. We are too tired to pray or think of mentioning the connection between God and the things we are seeing to our children. If we are away on a Sunday, it seems silly to waste valuable vacation time at a congregation we picked blindly out of a telephone book.
Children love to hear family stories. They are fascinated to hear about your life as a child or stories about colorful relatives they may have never met. Even at my age (nearly as old as dirt!), I still ask my dad to retell my favorite stories from his very colorful family.
Recently, I have tried to add some of our family’s faith stories to my repertoire. One of my favorite stories is how my grandmother found the church. She was pushing my infant mother in her carriage and stopped to rest in front of the church building. Someone came out to invite her in and she became a Christian shortly thereafter. Some stories are more humorous, although I won’t retell them here for fear my parents might be reading this. (What is the statute of limitations on parental punishment anyway?)