This is a guest post from Angela Suh. Angela lives in Austin, TX. She is wife to Halim, a pastor at the Austin Stone Community Church, and mom to three fun and crazy kids, Malachi (5), Evie (4) and Moses (2). You can read more from her at suhangela.wordpress.com.
From my childhood, I remember listening to the Bible as a series of stories. Moses parts the Red Sea. David slays the giant. The Good Samaritan helps his enemy. Never presented with a cohesive picture of what was happening in Scripture, I thought of it simply as illustrations of how we ought to follow God. So I walked away with some impressive moral imperatives:
- Obey in hard times like Moses.
- Be courageous like David.
- Be generous like the Good Samaritan, even to people you don’t like.
I became a great moralist, following the examples set forth in Scripture and attempting to live out this life that would enable me to be accepted by God. I tried to outwardly conform to what I observed.
As a parent, these old ways are still ingrained in me and I find myself often parenting as a moralist. The other day, I saw my children fighting over a toy and I sighed and told my daughter, “Stop fighting and give that to your little brother.” She huffed and threw the toy across the room. Had she given up the toy? Yes. But not as a result of her heart suddenly believing that her brother was more important than a toy or that it was best for her to follow the instructions of her mom. She gave me the outward compliance I sought because she wanted to avoid the spanking or timeout that would follow if she didn’t do as I asked.
But when I sit down and read my Bible, it reminds me of how I truly want to parent. I want to go after their hearts, not just their outward behavior. So, I can’t just present the Bible as a series of stories from which we can take some moral lessons, but I have to show them that God is writing one great story of redemption.
God created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. He made man and woman and they were meant to live in relationship with Him and rule over creation. But they disobeyed the one prohibition that God had placed before them and it broke everything. But God knew. It was all part of His bigger plan – to pursue and rescue a sinful people and restore them into relationship with Himself. And He would do this through the death and resurrection of His Son.
Every story that we read is a pointer to this Bigger Story:
- Moses parting the Red Sea isn’t primarily a story about a man who has great faith in God and trusts him when the odds seem impossible. Instead, it’s telling of a people enslaved and unable to free themselves. It’s the story of their great God who sends them a deliverer to lead them out of slavery. This story demonstrates our slavery to sin and point us to Jesus, the One who delivers us.
- David and Goliath isn’t primarily the story of a courageous boy who stands up to a great enemy and emerges victorious. Instead, it’s a story of a desperate and weak people in need of a deliverer from a great enemy, and their great God who provides a rescuer exactly when he’s needed. We see that we, ourselves, are desperate and weak and hopeless apart from God providing a great Rescuer.
- The story of the Good Samaritan isn’t mainly about us and how we ought to love people, even when they hate us. It’s about our God, sending His Son, to rescue a people that were His enemies. That He gave everything to save a people that hated Him.
When I read the Bible in this way, it changes me; it changes my children. I’m reminded that the Bible wasn’t meant to just make me outwardly obedient, it was to point me to the gospel. Like God came and pursued me and went after my heart, I want to do the same with theirs.
I don’t want to parent with a series of “Do this. Don’t do that. Obey, or I’m going to …” I want my parenting to reflect the Story that God has been writing since the beginning.
I want to show my children that their hearts, like Adam and Eve, are believing a lie that something apart from God is more satisfying. I want to show them that God, in His great kindness, wants to deliver them our of their slavery to sin, the same way that He delivered Israel from the Egyptians. I want to show them that we are desperate and weak and unable to overcome our sin on our own, but that our amazing God – He sent us the Rescuer we needed at just the right time, like He did with David.
I want to show them Jesus.