This is Day 24 in a 31 day series on Teaching Toddlers Theology. To catch up on where we've been, or view our menu of posts, go to this intro post.
Titus' favorite Bible story right now would have to be Jonah, or as he calls him, "Jonut." (As in, "donut") He can tell me the story now! I have had more spiritual conversations because of this one story, than probably any other one so far! The themes of obedience and forgiveness are so clear that I just can't pass up any opportunity to teach them!
So God told Jonah to go to Ninevah to tell the people to "stop doing bad things" (As his little bible says), and I reinforce that the word is also, "sin!" But Jonah said "no!" and ran away, got on a boat and sailed across the sea! God sent a big storm, and all the sailors were afraid because they thought they were going to sink. But Jonah said, "God sent this storm! Throw me into the water and the sea will be calm again!" So they did, and instantly the sea became calm. Then God sent a big fish to swallow Jonah! "Gulp!" Jonah stayed in the fish for 3 days and nights. And while he was in there, he prayed to God, "Please forgive me!" Then God told the fish to spit Jonah onto the dry land! Again God told Jonah to go to Ninevah and tell the people "stop doing bad things!" This time Jonah said "yes!" He obeyed! When he told the people of Ninevah what God had said, they we were sorry for the bad things they'd done, and asked God to forgive them!
When we read this story together, I reinforce the truth that everyone is a sinner! While I'm explaining that the Ninevites were sinners, and so was Jonah, I explained that Titus is, and Mommy is and Daddy is, and Everone is! But God will forgive us if we ask him to! When Jonah was in the big fish, he prayed and asked God to forgive him and God did! And when the Ninevites asked God to forgive them, God did! I remember the day when this first clicked with Titus! I was explaining that when we sin against God and we ask him to forgive us, He will! The whole time, Titus' eyes got bigger and bigger with understanding and awe... and then all of a sudden he exclaims, "Ohhhhh! Okayyyy!" He seemed to get it as much as he could for his tender 2 years of age. I can't describe my excitement in that moment! :)
I also use this story to reinforce the importance of obedience! Every 2 and 3 year old struggles in this area, so it's nice to have a Bible story that we can refer to as needed! Jonah is a bad example, but then a good example of obeying what God says. Kids see him get punished for disobeying, but they also see his surrendered heart in the fish and the forgiveness God gives him. Then he obeys God! I want Titus to know how important obedience is, not just to to us as his parents, but also to God! And I want him to know that no matter how far he may stray from the Lord, that where ever he is, he can always call out to God, that God will hear him with compassion and will forgive him!
I'm so thankful that this story is in the Bible!
And I'm thankful that I've had so many special moments and spiritual conversations with my precious 2 year old, because of one disobedient man, a big fish and a forgiving God!