One beautiful summer evening, years ago, I held my sleepy two-year-old son in my arms as we gazed at the twinkling stars in the night sky. He peered intently as I pointed out constellations with my finger and reminded him that God had made each star. I was touched that we were sharing this special moment together until I realised that, in actual fact, he was not looking at the stars at all. His full attention was concentrated on my hand! He was trying to make his chubby little fingers bend and point in the same way mine did.
And sometimes that is how it is when we teach children about God. In our minds we are viewing a grander and bigger picture of the Story of God but the children we are teaching are concerned with what is directly in front of them.
In time my son learnt to look beyond my pointing finger to see and appreciate God’s creation on his own. In fact, his knowledge of the night sky long ago far exceeded mine. He still loves his mother but now he has a unique and personal relationship with the Creator beyond what I could have planned for him.
In the same way, the children we teach will eventually see far beyond the individual Bible stories and begin to appreciate how each fits into God’s Greater Story. I know it is your prayer, like mine, that they will understand how they themselves fit into that story. I hope this will be far beyond what you and I could plan for them.
We ourselves need to remember that, at its core, God’s Story is more than facts, heroes, doctrines, moral lessons or even how children can live happy lives. These things are pointers but the grander and bigger story is about The One who creates, restores and reigns.
Helping Children See the Bigger Picture
Learning the Stories of the Bible will provide children with a strong spiritual foundation that will continue to shape them throughout their lives. But to understand an even grander and bigger picture of God children also need to understand how the Bible fits together as one continuous story.
A friend of mine drew the simple figures above as memory joggers so that children could draw them and tell the basic story of the Bible: creation, law, kings, Jesus, the church and the final coming. The pictures are intentionally simple so that children can easily draw them.
Other teachers have painted these pictures on their classroom walls as a timeline. Pictures of individual Bible Stories are attached to the appropriate places on the timeline so that children understand the chronology and how the stories fit together.
Whatever methods you use to share God’s Story may God bless you as you point children toward him.