One of the things I’ve been busy with this year has been writing a year’s worth of children’s church lessons that go through the basic, big picture story of the Bible.
I had many goals for this project. I wanted to treat children with respect and tell them the truth. I wanted to avoid easy answers and moralizing that weren’t readily available from the text. I wanted to complement the Jesus Storybook Bible and cover some stories that it omits. I am looking forward to going back through the whole thing and editing it, but for the most part, I feel like I am on the right track.
I expected that writing the curriculum would be more profitable for me than it will be for any single kindergarten or first grade kid who may sit through the lessons. It did not surprise me that I struggled at times with how to explain certain stories to kids because I struggled to explain them to myself. But there were a few surprises along the way.
For example, when I wrote about Jonah recently, I tried to tackle that tricky fourth chapter of Jonah that is often forgotten by story bibles. I remembered well that Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh, did not think the people deserved to be saved, and threw a fit in chapter 4 after the city was spared. But Jonah’s fury is not quite the way I remembered it. When I read it again, it was clear he was saying, “Lord, isn’t this exactly what I thought would happen when I was still at home? That’s why I ran away in the first place! I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster.”
Jonah had every expectation that God would save the Ninevites. He was mad that God for being that gracious, that merciful, that he would save even evil Nineveh. Of course, Jonah had his issues, but I couldn’t help but admire his great faith in God’s power. I know that changing hearts is the work of the Holy Spirit, but Jonah woke me up to some of my own apathy about God’s love for others and his ability to save even those who seem the least interested or needy.
I hope that some churches are able to use what I’ve written and that it will help others, but even now, I am thankful for the opportunity to have wrestled with God’s story this year and for the church that funded the endeavor. Four more lessons to go!