It’s back to basics for me.
When my daughter turned 4 years old, the same age where a lot of my early memories start picking up steam, it prompted a nostalgia-laden look at what life taught me during those early years when a younger me wore Toughskins jeans and carried a Big Red Chief tablet and metal Star Wars lunch pail to school.
There is a book titled, “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
I know the sentiment. From age 9 to 11, I thought I learned everything I needed to know about God the Father from the Old Testament, deeming Him a scary, hard-to-please overseer that doled out the 10 Commandments and a book full of Levite rules that made life hard for the Jewish people to live by.
I am not Jewish by blood, however, even as a gentile boy, I had a little taste of Judaic law.
My grandparents’ church, the only church I was familiar with, didn’t believe in the New Testament and didn’t teach it. For me, the Bible stopped at the conclusion of Malachi. Jesus wasn’t talked about. Christmas and Easter weren’t celebrated.
Instead, I remember “celebrating” the Feast of Unleavened bread around Easter, where every single possible crumb of bread was eradicated from the house for a week as a purification ritual. This meant I had to take matzo sandwiches to school for a week. Have you ever tried to keep baloney and cheese together while munching on two sheets of stale Manischewitz matzo crackers?
Even my classmate, a Jehovah’s Witness, felt sorry for me. She offered me some of her ham sandwich as contraband.
Speaking of ham . . . bacon, shrimp, ham . . . all things I enjoy today . . . not kosher. They were viewed as unclean and not worthy of eating. These days, I’ll wrap a piece of bacon around shrimp and eat it just because I can.
I did these things out of fear, fear of the church, fear of my grandfather, fear of disappointing God and giving him a reason to “zap” me.
My fear of not keeping the 10 commandments and myriad of other rules would later be relieved through the appreciation of freedom found through belief in Christ, the cross and His resurrection. In retrospect, all signs were pointing to Jesus and His love for me, even though those days were filled with some scary people and a very limited view of God.
In this series of upcoming posts, Back to Basics, it’s my hope to shed some insight through personal stories and scripture about the freedom I found in Christ even though I wrestled with fear of Old Testament law.
Today, I view the Old Testament alongside the New Testament for a more robust look at God’s holiness, my need for redemption and God’s loving provision.