Today I am going to be a guest reader in my son’s classroom. Originally I was scheduled to read at Thanksgiving time but I had got rescheduled to read in December instead (Christmas time). I did not think too much about it as schedules change all the time but now I see that God had something to show me.
The book I picked out is “The Gift of the Magi”. If you have not read this book … you must … it is an incredibly beautiful and touching story. We have had this book ever since Kaden was a baby … it was our older daughter’s book before that . I have read it to Kaden every year. The story is not only beautiful but for my family has a sense of tradition so this is the book Kaden and I wanted to share with his class.
As I was looking through the book the day before (because this is what an A type personality does the day before she reads to a group of children … she prepares! ) I found references to God in the book. At one point the main character says a prayer to God and at the end of the book the story is tied into the Three Wise Men who gave gifts to Jesus. Now , we have read this book ,like I said ,every year . In our home we openly talk about God and I suppose I just overlooked it … I don’t know … I had to of known and maybe just did not think about it.
So I got this whisper in my ear that maybe this book might not be a good book to read … maybe not everyone was Christian in Kaden’s class … maybe it would be considered offensive … maybe it was not appropriate or polite to read a story that mentions God and more specifically mentions Jesus.
So I kind of started to “freak out ” a bit. I sent the teacher a note explaining the story and basically asked her permission if it was ok that I read this book. The teacher assured me that this was not about teaching religion but ” a good story” and that I did not have to omit anything from my story-telling.
After this experience … I felt sad. I felt grieved that I somehow was worried about saying God’s name and worried if it might offend anyone. I asked my husband about it . He told me that I probably did not need to ask permission and if someone was offended that was about them and had nothing to do with me and the story I was telling. It is not like you are going in there banging bibles over peoples heads or anything … you are telling a beautiful story that gives reference to Christ … in a very soft and beautiful way.
I awoke this morning and still had a pain about it in my chest. I know it probably seems like no big deal … but to me it felt like I was more worried about doing what was right, polite, and respectful and as my husband pointed out , maybe worried about people’s opinions. So I cried, I told God I was so sorry. He gave me a picture in my head … He was telling a story and in that story my name was mentioned . He would never not say my name outloud because someone might be offended by the sound of my name … no, He loves me He would say my name outloud with all the love in His heart. I took that to heart.
Fortunately … my God is a God of love , mercy, and grace. In a not so coincidental way, this morning I came upon Psalm 103 which reads
1 Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
I knew immediately that God gave me this verse to let me know … He knows and He is quick to forgive and love so I did not need to feel guilty.
This may seem like such a “small thing” but I really believe it was such a big spiritual moment for me. I learned something. There are many that suffer and are persecuted in severe ways for Christ’s name … we are very lucky here in the States since we have the freedom to worship openly. There is however a social persecution of sorts that tells us that we are supposed to be polite and respectful of others and that when we say God’s name that this is offensive to those that don’t believe or who believe differently. If we come from a place of love just like God does for us … the mention of His name is just that … it illuminates love. Putting God in a shadow or taking Him out of a story so He can’t be seen or heard …. I can’t do it … I hurts my relationship with Him and if I offend someone that is not my intent , but I will live it … God matters first.