My six-year-old daughter is reading a chapter book. She is sounding out each word and asks for help with every third one. It’s been four days and she’s still in chapter one.
She asked about the word dinosaur the other night.
“Dad, what’s this word?”
“Dinosaur,” I told her.
She looked at the word and then asked me again.
I repeated myself, “Dinosaur.”
“Sometimes you tease me,” she said as she looked quizically at me. She didn’t believe me and this was her way of suggesting that I wasn’t telling her the truth about the word dinosaur.
I do tease at times and the situation was ripe for a little joke. But, I wasn’t teasing. The word really was dinosaur. Somehow, in her mind, that word didn’t fit with the rest of what she had read. I could see her puzzling and looking at the word again.
“Maybe the kids in the story went back in time,” I suggested.
“Yeah, cause they did talk about that,” she said.
And with that, she went on to the next word. The next day we attended church. This was our first in person church service in ten weeks. Shelter in place orders had kept us at home watching church on our television screens. It was good to be back with our brothers and sisters in the local church body.
As the Lord’s Table was being prepared, my daughter said to me, “The bread is the body of Jesus and the juice is His blood.”
“That’s right, honey,” I whispered back to her.
This was no time for teasing. Though the things of God seem strange to those outside the family of God, they are gloriously weighty and true and serious. I may tease and joke around about many things, but I never want my children to question the sincerity of what I tell them about Christ.
The Christian story is filled with wonder. God created everything from nothing. A man with a large boat survived and restarted civilization. The Red Sea parted and people walked across on dry land. A donkey spoke to a man. A small boy killed a giant with a sling and a stone. A man named Jesus claimed to be God (He was and is God). He died and then came back to life. He is now on a throne seated next to God the Father and will someday return to earth.
These are wonderful, strange, true, things. Things we shouldn’t tease about, things we should tell to the next generation with all seriousness.
In works of fiction, children travel back in time to meet dinosaurs. In God’s Word, we meet the maker of dinosaurs, the sculpture of the universe. This is why my daughter is learning to read. She is learning to read so she can meet God in His Word. Or, said another way, we are teaching her to read so that God can reveal Himself to her in His Word.
When my daughter starts to read the Bible on her own, she will come across words she doesn’t know. Most importantly, she will encounter the Word she doesn’t know. I pray that I’ll be ready to share the glorious, wonderful, serious, truth of the gospel on the day she asks, “Dad, what’s this Word?