Two children’s books are on my reading list for this weekend. Not by choice and kind of reluctantly. (At least, the first one…)
First. My kids are in a French immersion program at their middle school and high school. My youngest son’s class is reading Pieter et Dan: La Vie en Noir et Blanc by Marie-France Bouchard. The book is about South African, Pieter, and a Caucasian girl, Dan, both who grow up in South Africa’s time of apartheid. It is a timely book, but as someone who reads French, it is not an easy read.
Reading, when the kids were little, was a part of the daily routine. We would gather up books in languages from around the world in English, French, Spanish, or Malagasy and curl up on the couch together. It was a happy experience.
Fast forward to the 8th grader’s French book, and we are back on the couch together, reluctantly. Neither one of us are really excited to read this book. For him, it is hard, and for me, it is reliving teenage homework.
Second. The other book shaping my weekend is Saul’s Conversion by Arch Books. On Sunday, I am preaching on Acts 9:1-19, and as with most sermons, I read the Bible storybook version first.
This text has two reluctant characters: overzealous Saul and cautious Ananias. Neither one is overly enthusiastic to heed the call the Jesus. Saul had to be blinded so he can listen, and Ananias was scared (and rightly so!) to do what Jesus asks.
Two Books. Two Situations. Pairing these two reluctancies – reading to my 8th grader or the story of Saul – together reminds me of what my mother used to say to me as a kid:
“We all have to do things that we don’t like to do!”
Being reluctant means doing things we do not want to do – Both Saturday and Sunday evening will be reading pages and pages to my teenager son. Ananias risks his life to heal a murderer. Saul turned Paul will suffer, greatly, for the sake of the Gospel.
Silver Lining. What possible silver lining could there be with reluctancy? Time spent reading these books has done two things:
In one way, the French book has drawn me closer to my teenager, and when we draw close to one another, Jesus is near. It’s a sweet mothering experience.
On the flip side, when we spend time in God’s word, we draw near to Jesus, and then Jesus draws us closer to one another. God mothering us.
Being reluctant then turns into being certain. Certain in that Jesus will do what Jesus promised to do – to show up in our lives even when we are reluctant. Certain that Jesus will be there in our relationships. Certain that Jesus will never leave us.
Since this is my storytime (children’s message) for Sunday, families at Good Shepherd will each then be invited to take home the storybook of Saul’s Conversion. They will be encouraged to curl up on the couch together in God’s word, certain that as they draw close together, Jesus will draw closer to them.