Over the last few weeks I have had very interesting conversations with some of my coworkers. The subject matter is the theme of our next activity book for children, “the fear of the Lord.” The idea of producing it came rather naturally, since some years ago we published Raising Children in the Fear of the Lord, a compilation of articles written by local ministers and believers, intended mainly for Israeli believing parents. This time, however, our target group is the children of these parents.
With the gifts and expertise of our graphic designer, Heidi T., on the one hand, and my own miserable memories of primary school art lessons (the best of them being my mom’s unfailing readiness to help me with the homework) and the more or less similar memories of the rest of the staff on the other, Heidi is left completely to herself with the task of translating concepts and ideas into pictures, mazes, and other things that kids like about these activity books. What we are facing together with her is answering questions like: What is the fear of the Lord? Do we need it today at all, or is it an old-fashioned concept from grandma’s dusty wardrobe? And if we do need it, how can we communicate it with both biblical accuracy and pastoral concern for the children?
In other words, we have already passed the initial excitement over the new project, and are now well into the next phase, where the rubber hits the road. I just love this stage, when we – two Lutherans and two Messianic Jews – bring to the table our backgrounds, personal experiences, and perspectives, and together look at different Bible verses. If you could overhear our conversations, your ear would catch something like this:
“In a message I heard recently, the fear of the Lord was defined as deep respect for God.” – “Well, I agree, but I think there is more to it.” – “Go ahead.” – “I can deeply respect an opponent or even an enemy.” – “Ah, you mean God is looking for respect and obedience.” – “Yes. And moreover, I think he also wants us to know about the consequences of disobedience, should one persist in it.” – “Well, I agree, but fear of God is not fear, is it? The New Testament says God is love, and his love casts out fear.” – “Sure. And it also says, ‘It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.’” – “Yes, but these are children. You don’t want to scare them, do you?” – “Of course not … but we can’t present him as an indulgent soppy grandpa, because he isn’t one, is he?” – “Well, you have a point … so how do we do it?”
This is called teamwork, Israeli style: brainstorming together, speaking with both mouth and hands, and loving it. What’s most important, however, is the product: I am sure that by God’s grace, the coming book will be a blessing to the children, just like its predecessors.