Back when I was a little kid, all the pre-school children sang together at the beginning of the Sunday School hour. We sang the same songs so often that they lost any meaning; we didn’t even think about the words. As a teenager, I took over the musical portion of preschool Sunday School for a while, so I reacquainted myself with those same songs. I realized that some of them were keyed way out of my alto range, but I still didn’t pay any attention to the words.
Things about church childcare changed between my own childhood and that of my children. They don’t sing in Sunday School anymore. Heck, they don’t even call it Sunday School nowadays! Feeling nostalgic one day, I got to thinking about what my kids were missing because they didn’t learn those songs. Realistically, from a theological perspective, they aren’t missing much; I’d rather they sing “10,000 Reasons” than “I’ve Got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in my Heart.”
Nevertheless, I made a casual attempt to introduce those simple, old songs. In my attempt, our Heavenly Father revealed some surprising truths…and challenges for parents…buried in there with all the silliness.
I wrote about “This Little Light of Mine” last year. For the next few months, I will share a monthly parenting reflection from these children’s songs. This series will replace the Content & Context series that we finished last month.
I’m fairly sure I learned how to spell Bible before I could read even the simplest Bible story book. Why did the lyricist spell it? Probably because it’s so easy to rhyme things with E.
Yes that’s the book for me!
My “Go-To” Parenting Book
There are thousands of books about parenting out there. Most of them offer contradictory advice. I’ve found a couple of good ones but these few are good because they are so solidly rooted in Scripture. When it comes to parenting, what’s the book for you? What book will you choose above all others?
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. -2 Timothy 3:16-17
Feeling a little intimated by the Bible as a whole? (It is big and sometimes random.) Do a search for “parent” or “child” on www.biblegateway.com or another website/app. Prayerfully read those verses and the surrounding context to discover God’s heart for your relationship with your child(ren). It won’t usually give you specifics for the exact situation at hand, but it will point you in the right direction, after which the Holy Spirit can guide you more exactly.
Pointing Our Children to the Word
Not only do we parents seek guidance in the Word, but we also teach our children to use the Bible for their own guidance. Look what Paul wrote to Timothy just before the verses above.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. -2 Timothy 3:14-15
Why was Timothy so strong in his faith? Because he had been learning about the Scriptures and from the Scriptures since he was a baby! Our children are never too young to understand God’s love and desire for their good. Timothy was wise beyond his years because of this training.
The Bible in Our Own Lives
Let’s talk about this for a second. I don’t know how Eunice (his Mom) and Lois (his grandmother) taught Timothy, but they probably didn’t sit down for an hour every day and have family Bible study…although I’m sure they did that sometimes, and probably regularly. I think more often they followed the pattern of Deuteronomy 6:7, where God told the people of Israel to Impress [the Scriptures] on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. In order to talk about the Bible in this manner, you have to know it for yourself.
And thus, we circle back to our song. Is the Bible the book for you? Are you intentionally making space in your life to:
- learn more than you already know
- study beyond what is comfortable
- reflect on what you read
- obey in a timely fashion?
The Bible will never become the book for your children until it’s the book for you.
I stand upon the Word of God
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. –Psalm 40:2
To stand on the Word of God means to have confidence in it, to rely on it. Remember Gandalf in the Mines of Moria when he confronted the Balrog? Balanced on a narrow outcropping of rock, he declared, “You shall not pass!” He took a stand. (The music in the header photo is from Lord of the Rings, by the way.)
Sometimes in the desire to protect my home from the onslaught of sinful culture, I feel a little like Gandalf, telling destructive habits and attitudes that they “shall not pass” the threshold of my home. I’m standing on that thin outcropping of rock, like he was. Gandalf eventually feel into an abyss. But God is our Rock (Psalm 18:2), and His Word is unmovable. This is where we all have to stand, fellow parents. Our firm place to stand is on His Word!
Struggling with a possible compromise? Feel like giving in to the constant barrage of pressure from the world? The Bible is our standard against which all of life is measured. Go back to His Word. Stand there. Then let everything else wash around you.
When we finished singing this last line in preschool, we would all throw our hands in the air and shout, “Bible!” Oh, the excitement of preschoolers convicts me here. I want to approach the Word of God with joyful abandonment, with hands thrown in the air just because I get to be in His Presence without distraction for a few minutes.
Out of the mouths of babes
As I said, I tried rather half-heartedly to teach these songs to our children when they were preschoolers themselves. I remember the first time our firstborn sang it like this:
Yes, that’s the book for me.
I read and pray, and then obey
“Where’d you hear that?” I asked, “Those aren’t the actual words.”
She replied, “I didn’t hear them anywhere. I made them up.”
In our family, we sing it that way most of the time now. Isn’t it just right? This is how we use the Bible: read, pray, obey. It’s that simple.
Author’s Note: I tried to find copyright information or some history for this song, but I could find nothing—not even at Wikipedia. www.childbiblesongs.com says it’s free to use. So I’m going with “public domain” for the song lyrics.
Up-Coming in this series:
- Jesus Loves the Little Children
- I’ve Got the Joy, Joy…
- Father Abraham
- The Wise Man and the Foolish Man
How have you been affected by these simple children’s songs? What other songs would you like me to consider? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!