For some reason lately, I crave ice cream. I could eat it for every meal. OK! NO! Don’t jump to conclusions here! It is creamy and cold and lately I’ve had to lie down a lot to allow my hip to recover from surgery. I suffer from severe acid reflux, so lying down is a problem and anything that keeps from making me breath fire is wonderful relief for me…so, see, ice cream is what I am craving. The problem is that there is very little nutritious about ice cream, or frozen yogurt (my real choice actually), and try as I may, and no matter how often or how many labels I read, I just can’t make it so. My husband keeps reminding me repeatedly: “ice cream isn’t FOOD!” He is right, sigh, it isn’t and I cannot live on ice cream, but wouldn’t it be nice? Wouldn’t it be great to just enjoy the wonderful pleasures of the sweets that we enjoy and the prettiness that surrounds us that God gave us to enjoy without dealing with the ugliness that is the reality of this world as a product of sin that we brought here? Recently, I read a small scripture that gave me pause to consider this very issue.
You are, no doubt, familiar with the famous passages found in Deuteronomy 4:9-10; Deut. 6:7-8, 11:19. Many of us can say these verses by heart and understand the command to teach our children. But the question becomes…teach what? God tells the children of Israel to tell their children of the greatness of God who brought them out of bondage. It tells them to tell their children about the journey they made to the land their God had promised, and despite their disobedience, He kept that promise. He tells them to teach them the law and that God is a God of patience. He is one who always keeps His promise.
But, it wasn’t until recently when I was preparing to teach the temptation of Christ to my three and four year old class that I realize that I didn’t know how to teach the concept of Satan to them. I even thought about skipping over that account because it sounded so negative and they are so innocent. I was prepared to teach the love of God. It was that week that I read Joel 1:3:” Tell your children about it, Let your children tell their children, And their children another generation.” What were they to tell their children? Read onto verse 4: What the chewing locust left, the swarming locust has eaten; What the swarming locust left, the crawling locust has eaten; And what the crawling locust left, the consuming locust has eaten.” And the verses concerning destruction continued..ewwwww. They aren’t pleasant images. But, they are images of what really happened, the power of God and the punishment the people had to endure. Really? God wants them to tell their children of the punishment that God can deal out? Yep! You got it. Just as those children need to know the love of God and the lovingkindness and patience, they also need to understand that God’s patience will not endure forever and that someone that is trying to drag them into the depths of a pit of eternal punishment, someone who is very real and will try to consume their souls, someone that they must guard against from the very start, if they choose to disobey God. They must understand that God will do whatever He must to keep us from that place.
It would be great if I could survive on ice cream, cookies and cotton candy. It would be wonderful if all I had to deal with was pleasantness in the world, but Adam and Eve’s sinned and I must live with the reality of that sin, and so must those precious children. They watch the bad guys fight the good guys in cartoons and movies; the very basis of good vs. evil. So, I realized how important it is to teach my preschool class that disobedience will mean God will mean punishment and Satan is real. We practiced making Satan go away by saying (in our strongest and loudest voice!) “Go away Satan! We hate you!!! It is written: We obey GOD! ” Yes, Satan is real, and although it would be much easier to avoid it, we must be willing and ready to teach our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews the reality that God will punish, that hell is real and so is Satan. We must not be afraid to tell them the truth. After all, the scary part is, we know Satan will tell them whatever lies he chooses. He can and will disguise himself as something they love- usually something beautiful and unexpected, a temptation…ice cream…cotton candy....cookies…butterflies? (II Corinthians 11:14).