My 8-year-old son’s father committed suicide in 2012. It’s hard to explain to a child why he isn’t going to see his daddy anymore. It’s even more challenging to talk about what happens after a person dies considering I’m a Christian and his father (and his family) is Jehovah’s Witness. Though his questions may be difficult to answer, I can’t allow him to be misguided.
He’s on punishment this week for previous misconduct. Usually I’d give him busy work and reading assignments since he can’t enjoy playing his Nintendo DS or watching television. Instead, I printed a Bible-in-a-year reading plan that he and I are going to begin. I’ve read the Bible before but not with complete understanding. The first time around, finishing was more of a concern than applying God’s word. This time I aim not only to gain understanding but to help build my son’s faith as we seek the answers to so many of his burning questions.
I have a paperback New King James Version as well has a hardback New Living Translation Bible. Since we would be reading together, I opted to bring the English Standard Version of the Bible up on my computer so that we could view a larger print/font. I also opened an additional webpage for the dictionary to clarify words he didn’t yet know the meaning of.
At the start of our session I explained to him why we were going to read together. Whether its biology, geometry, or U.S. history; many of the things he will be taught in school will be instructed through the use of a text-book. An acronym I learned as a child growing up in church stated B.I.B.L.E. stand for basic instructions before leaving earth. This is the most important book he will ever read. Also, in the same manner you may discover something new after watching a movie you’ve already seen; you can never stop learning from the gems of the Bible. Lastly, it’s important to not only know the answer but to know why you know the answer. I want his faith in God to be biblically based, not just a form of tradition or blind faith-based on what Momma said.
On the first night we covered Genesis 1-3. When he began reading, I could tell he was excited. He read as if he were proclaiming the good news in front of a congregation. There was so much cheer and pride in his voice. We stopped in between the verses as they described the days of creation to review. After finishing chapter 1, I gave him a worksheet where he could match each day to what God did on that day. He worked through it the same way he has a tendency to rush through his homework for the sake of finishing and moving on to “play time”. I asked, “Why are you rushing? What do you plan on doing after this? You’re not going to watch television or play any of your games, so you might as well take your time and do this right.” He started to cry. I was angry but didn’t want to chastise him in a way that would cause him to relate Bible study to a chore or a punishment. It was neither. It was a privilege and likened to a treasure hunt.
After summarizing the gift and importance of reading the Bible with intention, things went smoothly. Chapter 2 describes the creation of man and chapter 3 narrates the fall of man. He has heard the story before from children’s church but not with the depth in which we read I presume. What did God tell Adam? What did Eve tell the serpent? How were they different? How did the serpent tempt Eve? Why didn’t Adam say anything to stop her? What was the first thing Adam and Eve did after they sinned? He offered his own opinions to my probing questions.
We were having fun until it was time for him to complete the rest of his worksheets. There was a word search, a crossword puzzle, a maze, and key words to unscramble. It was after his bedtime of 9 o’clock when he groaned he couldn’t find everything on the word search. He had found them all except 2. I glanced at the sheet to make sure they were there and told him to keep trying. I walked away but heard him start to cry…again. The Bible lesson turned into a life lesson. There’s a saying that you don’t cry over spilled milk, or in other words, things that don’t matter. As upsetting as his response to the worksheet was, it reminded me that people (adults included) have a similar reaction to challenges. We give up too easily. We aren’t willing to work on something that takes more time than expected. We want answers (and much more) handed to us. Matthew 7:7 says to seek in order to find. Not cry and find. Not complain and find. Not procrastinate and find. Seek! He eventually found the last 2 words but not until I confirmed that they were there. I ignited his hope. If he truly believed the words weren’t there he would have given up; maybe even pretended as if he had found them just so he could finish.
I truly enjoyed our time together with God through His word. My foundation of faith began as a child and now my son’s will too.