If you want to give your kids a balanced worldview that explains the righteous laws of God revealed in Creation and manifested in the heart of man, if you want to help them gain the discernment needed to choose the path to Wisdom’s house, if walking the paths of God is of any interest to you then a study of the book of Proverbs would be well worth your time.
It was a simple Proverb, just one verse: “The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts.” Proverbs 18:8. It exposed to me one of the “dark ways” (2:13) that people choose instead of being on wisdom’s path. In its straightforward simplicity, I was given a window view into Folly’s house, a view that revealed the bait and trap that await those who wander in. A power is given to the Gossip, as to a villain in any of the superhero movies, it has a draw that people don’t even realize and brings poison to the “inmost parts”. A poison that tastes like filet mignon, so yummy, so tender, but it rots from the inside those who consume it.
But seeing as this was the next verse for our Spiritfire, I was confronted with the issue of how to explain it to my kids. For years now I have chosen story as a tool for teaching my kids various things, everyday things like the importance of closing a door or cleaning a room. But I have also experienced its explanatory power in the deeper things. When I looked at my kids’ blank stare as I read the proverb to them, and confused expressions as I tried to explain it, I knew I had to do something…
We traveled back in time to the Old West, to a town that for years had been robbed from by a band of hooligans. A hero had come to that town recently, one that brought fear to the villains and deliverance to the townspeople. Until one of the more unscrupulous members of the village witnessed something odd on the way home. The hero was dismounting from his horse when he saw a spider had crawled up on the saddle. Before the villager knew it, the hero, who had thought he was alone, screamed and jumped away in fear.
It is at this point the story has enough to almost tell itself. The villager goes to the hooligans and says he knows something that will let them take over the town again. He will tell it to them if he gets a cut. In this story, it is to the villains that his bit of gossip is so tasty.
Yes, it got fun as I gave different voices to the characters: Joker-like for the Gossip, Dudley Do-Right for the hero, Dr. Claw-like for the hooligan leader, and random ones for the townspeople. My kids got to see and hear an explanation that seemed to really sink in as my oldest son said to me, “I think I get it, that was a good story Dad.”
Do whatever you want for the ending, I didn’t want to belabor the point so I left it at the bad guys throwing a box of spiders at the hero, who then ran away screaming. Feel free to let the hooligans take over for a time, until the hero somehow overcomes his fear, or have an opposite Samson-like ending and have a woman take care of the box of spiders. One of the unspoken bits of storytelling that can really make a difference to your kids is that of the role you allow gender to play in it. I’ve also told stories where the villain was a Cruelella Deville-type character or a spoiled princess, it’s fun to see my daughter wrinkle up her nose in distaste when I do. Everything plants seeds, and when it comes to solidifying identity we must be careful to define discernment, for parents are most responsible in equipping their children to navigate who they are becoming.
Joining storytelling with a devotional Spiritfire time can really help bring Scripture to life. I know my kids really enjoy watching Veggie Tales movies, but nothing can replace a genuine family devotional time with God. When you do it, bring story along with you and witness your kids plum the depths of books like the book of Proverbs, the sayings and riddles of the wise (1:6).