It is time.
I knew this day would come but I have been putting it off for about a year now. It is time to start teaching my children what the Byas family believes about God. But how do you teach your children about God when you have divorced the God of your youth and are in a very new, yet vibrant, if at times erratic and unpredictable, relationship with a newly found love?
Like a man with an embarrassing case of Stockholm Syndrome, when it comes to teaching my children about God I sometimes want to return to the safety and comfort of the God of my youth. I want to revert to simple systems, simple answers to simple questions, a God of a black-and-white world where it’s easy to tell who is in and who is out, where guilt will guide you, and gray simply does not, cannot, exist.
But there are subtle hints in my memory that perhaps I am waxing too nostalgic. He loved us so much that he sent Jesus to be our friend but he would get angry at us if we misbehaved or said four-letter words. I remember that he was a very old white European Jewish man but he was also, at the same time, a very young white European Jewish man named Jesus. He created the heavens and the earth…and the dinosaurs? He gave us a rainbow but he killed the entire human race to do it. There are many reasons why this God was confusing to me but a lot of it reflected the confusion I had about the Bible. What was it and how did it relate to my life as an 8 year old?
Did “believing in the Bible” mean that I would have to dress up as Joseph/Moses/James/Paul/Jesus (all biblical costumes look the same so you can just wear the same thing each year and just change your name) each year for
Halloween the Fall Festival?
Did it mean I would never get to watch Disney movies because they supported “godless gays”?
Did it mean that I could never enjoy dinosaurs or watch Jurassic Park?
Did it mean that I had to get stoned for disobeying my parents? Oh, no? But I do have to honor my parents? But why that verse and not that…Questions like that show that you don’t “believe in the Bible.” Really? Sorry, I didn’t know.
No. I simply cannot teach my kids about such a God. But I have learned that if I do not, then I cannot teach them about such a Bible.
And so I begin the humbling journey of teaching my children about a book that tells us the most true story we will ever hear…because it tells about a God who has shown up in a nobody Jewish man named Jesus who calls us to the uncomfortable lives of building for his kingdom, always with enough information to give us hope, but never with enough to give us certainty.