Every week in The Kiddy Pool, Erin Newcomb confronts one of many issues that parents must deal with related to popular culture.
My elder daughter received The Big Picture Story Bible as a gift from her godparents (fellow CAPC writer Carissa Turner Smith and her husband). The book, written by David Helm and illustrated by Gail Schoonmaker, is beautiful, complete with vibrant images and simple, poetic text. As the title suggests, the book is filled with bright, big pictures, and it also follows the “big picture” of the Bible itself — the ongoing relationship between God and His people and the continuing revelation of God’s promises. I love the way the text condenses Scripture into its kernels of truth like “Isaiah reminded them that God’s forever king would come from the family of David.” While these simplifications are for the audience of children, they work as reminders for me too that lots of analysis doesn’t necessarily mean lots of truth. Sometimes the work of understanding God’s promises is pretty simple, and reading with my toddler helps me approach the Bible with fresh, childlike faith.
I’ve taken to leaving the book out on the ottoman, which serves as our child-friendly coffee table, and my daughter asks my husband and I to read from it throughout the day. Scripture is woven throughout our day because she finds the book and the stories appealing and interesting, and we’ve already worked our way through from beginning to end (and back again) several times. We were reading about Adam and Eve this week, and the text says: “Now Adam and Eve had a choice to make. They could obey God’s word, or they could listen to Satan. What do you think you would have done? Do you know what Adam and Eve did?” At this point, my daughter does know what Adam and Eve chose, and she knows its consequences from prior readings of the book. So when I asked the question “What do you think you would have done?” I was surprised to hear her say she would disobey too.
I know that she understands the language of choices and obeying, since we use those regularly to talk about discipline. But in our reading, I was looking for her to give me the “right” answer, the one where the readers learn from the story’s characters, and she was giving me the real answer. If nothing else, reading the rest of the text shows that my daughter’s answer was much more honest than my “right” one. Again and again, the people of God disobey, turn away, and suffer the consequences. I do think God’s people are supposed to learn from our history and our prophets, but the reality is that we still disobey and still turn away. One of the most poignant reminders of Scripture is that God does not forsake us forever, that God forgives, that God longs for relationship with His people even when we push Him away.
With my answer, there’s no need for Christ, because I’ve got the story figured out all on my own. Nothing could be further from the truth. Where I approached the text with “right” answers, my daughter approached it with humility and truth. Most likely, I would have disobeyed just like Adam and Eve did, and there are lots of situations in my life where I realize I did just that, and chose to disobey God even as I knew better. My grown-up faith saw only right answers and wrong answers, but my daughter’s child-like faith saw truth and wonder and the beauty of God’s love for us even when we fail to get it right again and again. And that’s a big picture that any parent can appreciate — the unconditional love that draws us back to One who knows our faults and cherishes us as His own anyway.