Swords and Stones and Saviors

This morning my 4 year old asked me to read his Children’s Bible to him, so of course I had to drop everything I was doing, which was nothing, and sit down for a story. Of course, he picked David and Goliath. Show me a 4 year old boy who doesn’t love the story of David and Goliath and I’ll show you a 4 year old boy who hasn’t heard the story of David and Goliath.

I read it for the eleventy billionth time, I used my scary giant voice, I helped him determine who was a Philistine and who was an Israelite in the illustration, and it all ended with the classic rock to the head.

“I thought David cut off Goliath’s head. Grandma Donna said he cut off his head,” Q queried when we were done. Oh that Grandma, spreading the finer details of death near and far.

“Er, yes. Well, he DID cut off Goliath’s head after he killed him, but they didn’t put that part in your kid bible,” I said.

“Why not? Why they not put it in my bible?”

“Ummmm…because kids don’t usually like that stuff,” I answered lamely.

“Yes the do!”

This whole conversation got me to thinking. First of all, I’m starting to suspect that my mother is watching too much NCSI. Secondly, I don’t think telling a four year old that someones head got cut off is a bad thing. Third(ly?), I’m shocked at myself.

I don’t allow my children to watch television commercials or listen to the radio. I think that gratuitous violence is dangerous, almost as dangerous as Katy Perry. Yet here I am, talking about decapitation with my kid.

Why?

When I was in college I took a course in Children’s Literature and we read the original version of Grimm’s Fairytales. They were gross, graphic and scary. I still do not plan on reading them to my children because trust me, they are gross…but my professor explained that children liked them because they dealt with their unspoken fears. “What if my parents die? What if I am hungry? What if a bad troll tries to eat me?”

Just because children are innocent doesn’t mean they are unafraid. I know a certain child who refuses to go into the hallway without a light because of the Monsters. He is two. He is old enough to know that there a bad things, scary things. He is small enough to feel helpless against them.

And so the old fairytales had children baking witches in ovens and ripping open wolves stomachs and worse. To face a terror is the first step to becoming brave, the cowards run.

Q asked me to drag out my Bible, the one without pictures. He asked for a battle story that wasn’t in his bible, and I told him he could draw a picture as I read it to him, unedited. He heard about God sending thunder down to confuse the Philistines, and he drew a picture of a bad guy getting hit by thunder. He heard about the Egyptians drowning in the Red Sea and he drew a picture of the sea with some dead horses floating in it. Then he lost interest and asked me to teach him about octopuses and how they suction and squirt ink.

His drawings were hilarious. They made me think of art therapy and I giggled a little to think of what someone would say if they were shown his violent drawings. He was extremely proud of them, excited even. Perhaps every child needs art therapy, perhaps we are all small and traumatized by the horrific possibilities this life holds. Perhaps every infant screams because they know it’s possible that their mother won’t show up.

Are you afraid? Do you live in the midst of violence? Are you in imminent danger of losing your parents? Your head? Are you a few tragedies away from being hungry?

Yes, you are in danger. The children know it, they sense it, their mortality.

We make ourselves feel save in our fenced in back yards and our good sides of town, but they are all illusions. I don’t want to tell my children they are invincible. It would be a lie, and all children know it. Instead I want to validate their worries and show them that there is Someone bigger than monsters, Someone brighter than the darkness. I want them to know they need a Savior.

So, I read to them about battles and sin and violence. I read them the story of the human condition and they smile as they hear about a God who always wins His battles, who always helps His people. They are learning about a just God who demands blood for our sins, a loving God who sends himself to bleed for us, the final sacrifice. It’s gory. It’s true. It’s what we need, no matter how old we are.

“We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.”- G.K. Chesterton

10 thoughts on “Swords and Stones and Saviors

  1. Good stuff. I just told Clementine, this week, about Hansel sticking a chicken bone out of his cage so the witch would think it was his finger. Then I told her about his shoving that witch in the oven. I'm convinced that the “Goose Girl” turned me into a freak for life: can't wait to read it to Clementine.

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  2. Oh, David and Goliath, how they dominate the little boys' list of bible stories. And I was trying to find the link with the lyrics, but I can't so I'm going to have to type them out here. OK? You can delete it if you like. 😉 Ethan listened to two songs on continuous mode from the time he was about two until…

    One was “Goliath, thump, thump.” You have to stomp your feet on the thump, thump part.
    The part that keeps coming to mind is this: “Am I a dog” Goliath asked,”that you'd choose stones to do your task? How'd you like to be bird feed and I'll make you the seed?”

    That's not the best song though. The best one goes like this:
    When David was a wee little lad
    He killed a great big lion bad
    And all the sheep were very glad
    Because the lion made them sad

    When David saw Goliath
    He said, “Who is that man?”
    Even though no man can kill him
    My God tells me I can.

    Oh, whiz, bang, went the rock on his head
    Whiz, bang, BOOM, fell down and he's dead
    Whack, whack sword cut off his head
    He should have stayed in bed.

    The Donut Man – Rob Evans

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  3. Fairy tales do not teach children that dragons exist. They already know they do. Fairy tales teach children that dragons can be killed. — C.K. Chesterton

    This is one of my all time favorite quotes, and your post today just reinforces it. We must train our children in how to cope with difficulties, because it is a given that they will face them!

    Thanks so much for this one.

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  4. Girl, this is just seriously rocking good stuff. I remember when my daughter started reading the original Grimm's Fairy Tales. We had to take the book away from her so that any of us could get any sleep. But. You're right. We do our kids a huge disservice by trying to teach them there aren't real big scary things in the world, scarier than the Giant Pickle or a Veggie Tales boogeyman. And God is greater. Love this post. Love it!

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  5. Loved this post. Especially since our church just did a sermon on John the Baptist, sans head. if California was next door to Missouri, we'd either have the best playdate EVER or our boys would finally check “total world domination” off their to-do lists. or both.

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