I love how children KNOW God. I love the way children view God, how they hear and process the truths and stories from the Bible, and how they live it out.
One day, a long time ago, a few years before my oldest son even entered school, we were at a beach by the ocean. I was watching him from a distance. He stepped carefully into the water and walked out again. He did this a few times before getting really frustrated.
“What’s the matter?” I asked him. “Is it too cold? Too rocky?”
“Why can’t I do it?” he said, clearly agitated. “I keep sinking into the water.” I started to explain how this was normal, how our bodies are heavier than water, how our feet need to find a place to balance, like any good teacher-mom would do.
“But Jesus could do it. And the disciple could do it. So, why can’t I walk on water?”
Oh, that child-like faith. That belief, that trust, that awe.
On our latest trek to the ocean, I asked him to come into the water with me. It was a flat out no. After begging asking him some more, he told me it was too cold, too rocky, too many waves.
In school, I start the grade one Bible curriculum each year by discussing our favourite Bible stories and then drawing a picture of it. I love how easy it is for kids to pick out a story they love. The kids get to say their story and then draw a picture about it. I did it when I taught Kindergarten and I did it when I taught grade four (they write about it or draw a comic about it at that age).
And I did it again this year….
One of the children in my class came up with a story I hadn’t ever heard before as a “favourite.” It was the story of Jesus talking to his disciples before he went to heaven to be with God. I quickly rattled off the verse:
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV)
This one stuck with me for some reason. I went home that night and looked up the different translations or versions. I stumbled upon the paraphrased version in The Message.
“Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: ‘God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.'”
Maybe instead of an easy, comfortable first day activity, I needed a little lesson from a grade one student. A reminder of what my job was this year, and always. A reminder to never lose that awe, that trust, that faith.