Tears pooled in her eyes. “That’s why I need to know the end. That’s why movies are so unsatisfying. They finally get free, and the story stops. I need to know what happens after they are free. I need to know which way to go.”
She picks up a Bible and reads, reads of the children of Israel crossing the Red Sea. Salvation, baptism, freedom. She reads and stops.
I continue the story, my hands moving through desert sand.
“After God’s people had passed through the waters into freedom, they were free to go anywhere they wanted. But which was the best way to go?
“God loved his people so much that he showed them the way to go. He led them to Mt. Sinai. . . . He gave them the Ten Best Ways to Live.” *
The Ten Best Ways to Live: The Law.
I had been trained in a deep disregard for The Law. It was the Old Covenant. It was useless for salvation. It revealed guilt. It enslaved. It was outdated, irrelevant.
Yes, there were parts of it we would do well to keep: if Paul had repeated the commandment, then it was for today; if Jesus had repeated the commandment—well, we would have to evaluate whether he was saying that for the Church or for Israel. When it came down to it, all that mattered were the nine commandments. (Paul never did tell us to keep the Sabbath holy.)
But these Ten Best Ways to Live?
I invite the children, one by one, to talk with God about The Ten Best Ways, about this story. Once all the children have settled on their mats, I roll out my own. I choose plain white paper and a few crayons.
What would life be like without these Ten Best Ways? Without The Law? I wonder. What difference did these words make? How did people without these words live?
I draw a line, splitting the paper in half. The Law, the line. One side, life without the law: murder, cheating, lying, child sacrifice, oppression, adultery, usury, chaos. The other side, life according to The Ten Best Ways: respect, honor, justice, order, unity, rest, safety.
Love does not free us to wander lost. Love frees us and shows us the best way. My heart fills with thankfulness for the Law, with love for the Giver of the Law.
Freedom is only the beginning.
*The Ten Best Ways language is from Young Children & Worship by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman