A few weeks ago I ordered a cassette tape (yes, they still exist) from the clearance bin in the online store of "Great Commission Publications." GCP is the publishing arm of the Presbyterian Church in America/Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I turned to the Presbyterians in search of a shorter catechism I could use to do some catechetical work with my preschooler. (I know it's hard to believe, but apparently Anglicans have no such shorter catechism developed for younger children!) :-)
While I was ordering the little catechism booklet, I came across this tape called "Scripture Songs." It's volume 2 of a series of tapes where young children sing short verses from the Bible. And it's fantastic. We've been using it now for about three weeks, introducing a new verse about once a week. The music is catchy (but not treacly) and beautifully produced, and Sweet Girl loves hearing other little girls and boys sing the words.
Thus far she's learned Psalm 119:105, Psalm 119:11, and Romans 6:23. When we got to the verse from Romans, I decided to play it through the first night without any commentary at all. So we just listened to it together: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." The second night, I made a few brief comments about the verse and what it meant. I wasn't sure how much of that she listened to and absorbed, so I was prepared to do it again the following night.
The third night, I put the tape in and hit play. We sang our way through the two verses from Psalms. Then came the verse from Romans. The children began to sing, repeating the lines as they did so (a great way to aid memorization):
"For the wages of sin is death, for the wages of sin is death --"
In the pause that came between this line and the ensuing good news, my little girl drew herself up and said, loudly and emphatically, "No! I'm sorry, but we've got grace!"
It's interesting how emphatic even a four year old can already be in the face of the reality of death. But I was so grateful that her "No" was not just denial. It was grounded in the big "Yes!" that followed, in the real hope we have in Christ. We ended up having a great discussion -- that night and some other nights after, along with her Daddy --about the truths in that verse. We can't skip the first part, hard as it may seem to have to unpack it (for ourselves, as well as for our four year old). Sin does lead to death. That's the way it works. But thank God we're not left there. And thank God for the grace he has offered which we can receive. It IS grace that we've been offered God's free gift of eternal life, and it's good news that we don't have to face death without Jesus.
I don't think I'll ever be able to read that verse from now on without hearing that little voice, echoing with such assurance, that we've got grace.