“35 Jesus wept” – John 11:35 (ESV)
We’ve begun experimenting with scripture memorisation for April (2 years old). She learns many words and phrases from us so we thought that this would not be an impossible task. Even so, we decided to start with the shortest verse in the Bible.
It’s not a perfect process by a long shot, but that’s not the point. It’s the spiritual discipline of scripture memorisation which we want her to develop.
When April quotes this verse she doesn’t quote the chapter and verse. We’ll keep working on that but larger numbers are not very consistent for her yet. She also says, “Jesus wet,” which isn’t really too far off since she knows that weeping is crying and crying is a wet process. I doubt it is deliberate interpretation at this stage but it is very cute.
This morning April was sitting on my knee while I was reading my Bible. I thought I would show her the verse in the book so she could see that it came from God and not just from mum and dad.
Our children see us reading a fair bit. They know the words are the important bit and that we can read words from a book or from a screen and they are just as important. But the Bible has a special significance, whether electronic or paper, and our children know this too.
As we read the two words of April’s memory verse, I was struck by how much text was on the screen and I considered what a two year old would notice when they looked at the jumble of words. Too many words for a child who has to consider each letter carefully to decipher them one a a time – very overwhelming.
I decided that an explanation of the verse was called for instead of just marveling at words and letters.
I started with a question, “April, do you know why Jesus was crying?”
“Jesus was crying because his friend had died.”
No point in sugar coating it, I thought, but that’s not something she could comprehend yet… How to communicate this concept to a small child.
“That means his friend had gone away for a long time and Jesus wouldn’t see him any more. Jesus would really miss his friend. It’s like when you and papa visit Queenie and Rangi and we start to miss mamma.
Jesus was really missing his friend so he wept.
But Jesus is special so he made his friend come back.
When you and papa are away we can’t make mama just come back. We have to get in the car and drive all the way to her. Jesus can just make mama to be there with us so we don’t miss her any more.”
I watched her thoughtful two year old expression for a few seconds…
And then her attention span was at an end and she slipped off my lap and went to dance to the music playing in the background.
If I had the attention of little April for longer I would like to have shown her how she can ask Jesus to fix things that upset her. Or to make her feel better when things can’t be fixed.
Any opportunity to show the character of God to my children, even on a very simple level like this, is well worth the time spent. We parents must constantly be on the look out for opportunities to glorify God before our children. Some are obvious like this, but some are not so obvious such as keeping cool when something goes wrong or frustrations mount up.
I’m certain that most of what I said went over her head, but this is a message we will come back to regularly with April. Just like adults, children need to hear things over and over before they stick. I think it’s important to note that God’s word won’t return empty as it will accomplish what he sets for it to do (Isaiah 55:10-11). This applies for children or for adults, even if it might seem a little silly to speak about such deep concepts with children.
It is always worth it to speak holy truth to our children. Always. I can also testify that it is such a rewarding feeling if children hear something from the Bible which makes them happy. The caution then is to not just stay within the happy parts of scripture like blessing, mercy and love. Death, sin and judgement are also important, but at the right time.
Please feel free to share your experiences with teaching God’s word to your children. God bless.