Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Wonderful Words Of Life"1 (Lyrics)
Deuteronomy 11:19 – Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (NIV)
"Please read the God Book, Oma!" pleaded my five-year-old granddaughter. I realized that she was referring to The Toddler's Bible by V. Gilbert Beers, even though I had never called it the God Book. That was her idea! I was thrilled. Through my free style of reading this little picture book, I somehow conveyed exactly what I wished: God is the central character.
She noted another observation that surprised her. She said, "Oma, I see that the Bible is all one story that goes on and on!"
"That's right," I remarked, "And you are part of that story!"
Her eyes lit up, for this amazed her.
The years have passed by, and I've read the God Book to all my grandchildren. Our God Book times usually happened at night, snuggled together in bed. Those were precious times. I trust that I left them with warm thoughts of the Bible. If they simply remember the positive mood during Oma's bedtime solemnities, I'm sure that God can use that. And someday, I trust, those Disney+ movies will seem pathetic in comparison to the God Book.
For various reasons, we may find ourselves distanced from our young people. Yet, we can pray. Recently, I prayed to see my teen granddaughter, for it had been a long time. God heard me. I saw her briefly and gave her a big, long hug. We had just enough time to reflect on fun times at Oma's house.
Back to the God Book: One particular story fascinated the children. It was the Genesis account of how kind Joseph was to his mean brothers who had sold him into slavery. When they showed up in Egypt to buy food, Joseph played a trick on them, forgave them, and was surprisingly good to them. This story is surely one of the most potent portraits in Scripture of God's radical mercy. Isn't that what our children desperately need to experience?
However, that message doesn't necessarily get well-conveyed. I recall Sunday School bulletin boards which conveyed, essentially, a behaviour management program: Share. Be polite.
I bounced this observation on my 38-year-old son who was raised going to Sunday School. He seemed unconcerned, noting that children are less impacted by the actual words spoken or by the bulletin board images than by the emotional effect that people make on them. These emotions become imprinted on their young hearts and powerfully influence their future view of God.
Truthfully, the best way that we can convey the message of God's mercy and grace is by living forgivingly in our relationships — like Joseph did. That's how we can diffuse God's tender love amongst each other. As the God Book teaches, that is the message of hope for the next generation … and the next … and the next.
2 Corinthians 3:2 – You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. (NIV) — Notably, by impressionable children!
May this be our personal prayer:
Prayer: Lord, break me, melt me, and mold me, to make me a vibrant page in the God Book, a living letter of Your merciful grace. Amen.