I co-teach Sunday school to the four year olds at my church and it is consistently one of the highlights of my week. These little ones are so precious and generous with their love and I have loved getting to know their hearts this year.
But more than that, getting to tell the Story of Christ’s work in the world throughout history on such a basic level is perhaps more beneficial for my own faith than it could ever possibly be for theirs.
We have mourned the brokenness in the fall, the destruction from sin, the broken hearts and relationships as God moves in one sinful family right from the beginning.
We’ve sung of our big and mighty God, memorized verses on thankfulness and forgiveness, hoped in the eternal promises that nothing is too wonderful for God.
We have discussed what sin is and struggled to notice and confess our own sins before pointing out the sins of others in our lives. It seems particularly easy to notice our siblings’ sins, especially as a four year old.
Maybe it’s because I’m at about the spiritual maturity of a four year old, but walking through Genesis with these children has so increased my love for God’s redemptive narrative.
Tomorrow, we finish Genesis with the story of Joseph’s brothers watching their darkest moment redeemed and restored beyond what they could have imagined.
It’s a miraculous story, really. They jealously sold their brother into slavery and lied to their father, claiming he had died. They lived in guilt for years and then the whole world was stricken by famine. They journeyed hundreds of miles to find food, only to be told they must come back with their youngest brother.
On the journey back, they talked about how this must be penance for their sin against Joseph. They didn’t know- couldn’t know. God had already absorbed their sin, forgiven their debt, redeemed evil into Good.
He had already made it new.
Because of course we know what they didn’t- that Joseph was alive and that they had already spoken with them, that, in fact, though they had tried to kill him, God had put him in a position to save the whole world.
And you know how the story ends- they come back, discover the truth, and their first reaction is fear and distress at facing their own sin (isn’t that always how it goes?).
But Pharaoh gives them the best land, promising to provide for all their needs in the next five years of famine. He even tells them to leave behind all of their things in Canaan, because he will give them an even better life here in Egypt, where they will receive all the merits and status of their brother, who they themselves tried to kill.
They are more than forgiven, they are repaid for their evil with good exceeding their wildest dreams.
A few weeks ago, our little four year olds were a little extra squirrely during the story, getting off on more tangents than usual and just generally acting their age, when one tiny friend raised her hand.
“Yes, A?” I said with a smile, wrangling a particularly wiggly child into my lap.
She half stood up and addressed the whole class. “But guys!” she exclaimed earnestly, “We’re not listening to the story!”
And what a good story it is.