I've gotten to spend a lot of time with the children during this week's missions conference. We've followed each evening's missionary presentations with a geography themed class. The goal has been to help the children see that though little ones in other lands might have differences in food, language and clothing -- they are really just like us -- sinners in need of a Savior.
I'm growing in my conviction that logic or reason has no bearing on the soul unless it is rooted in story. It is the story that gives life its meaning. God designed our souls to learn this way. He spent thousands of years writing a story, painting pictures, giving illustrations in narrative and poetry so that there might be a foundation laid for the explanation that would come when the story was finished. After Jesus's death and resurrection the apostles revealed the mysteries that had been hidden in the story all along. The logic of salvation as laid out in Romans and Galatians would have been meaningless to our finite minds without a context. As illuminations of a well-known story, its beauty is unspeakable.
God is the master story teller. All men, though marred by sin, bear the image of their Creator and can only imitate His grand themes and ideas. Therefore, from every story, in one way or another, our eyes can be drawn to Christ. And, because He chose to tell us of Himself by means of a story, isn't it part of our nature to be drawn to stories? Is that why children, little ones and grown up ones, love stories?
I decided to practice on the Beauty Hunters this week. I found, through a simple library search, an illustrated picture book set in the country of the night. Each evening I read a story to the children. It did not matter whether we had 23 kids or only 9 -- the story was like magic. The noisy, not-quite-always-obedient group of mostly boys were quickly caught up in the story's spell while stillness and silence settled in our midst.
Over the next few days I hope to post about the books that we read and the ways that the stories drew my heart, and prayerfully also the children's hearts, to Christ. My goal is two-fold. I'd like to communicate to those of you who are parents of Beauty Hunters the things we discussed. I'd also like to open a discussion and learn from all of you how to better point the eyes of preschoolers to Jesus by utilizing the power of stories. Are there particular books that you have found surpass all others? By what criteria do you sift good stories from mediocre ones and thereby cultivate a taste for excellent literature? How much discussion do you attempt to engage in with the children after reading the book? Or, should the stories just be left to stand on their own, laying a foundation for discussion at a later time?
Feel free to chime in with ideas even before the first book post. I'm all ears!
He established a testimony in Jacob
and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God...
Psalm 78:5-7 ESV