The other day I sat with our oldest reading the story of Hokusai, one of the most famous and influential artists ever to come out of Japan. The story goes through his whole life, from age 5 to 80. Towards the end of his life, the book describes how he was a Buddhist and believed that the stars literally guided him towards his destination.
He thought Mt. Fugi was a sacred Mountain and that a “sun-goddess” lived there. This concept is a reoccurring theme throughout world history. Jackson knows that many pagan people worship all sorts of false gods, so I reminded him, that at this time, most poeple in Japan didn’t understand that there is only one true God. We fit into our time line in relationship to what he knows of world history up until this point. This story drew him in, in a way that compelled him. This is how our conversation went. That is why I love good literature, it breathes life and lays groundwork for deep and formational conversations.
J: Mommy, is Hokusai still living?
Me: No, he lived hundreds of years ago.
J: Is he in Heaven?
Me: Well – who did he follow? (Notice I didn’t answer him, I asked him a question. Always giving him space to think and own it for himself.)
Me: So what do you think?
J: He didn’t follow Jesus. But he was a good Buddhist and tried to do good and was kind?
Me:That doesn’t matter.
He left the couch and silently paced the floor. I just let him sit with the uncomfortable moment. He was dealing with the reality, that the man in the story, that he had come to love, did not follow Jesus and that that meant something drastic for his eternity. I have stated before in other posts, that we don’t focus on heaven and hell in the beginning of our children’s spiritual formation. We focus on Jesus and his Lordship and that he is the King. We follow him and he teaches us how to live in this life and a natural allegiance to him forms without fear of being “left behind’. Starting a life long relationship with the Lord shouldn’t be done in fear but in anticipation and excitement.
So, as usual, I told him a story, and taught him a new verse in the bible. His little mind gained a foothold on how someone can be good and still not go to heaven. That goodness alone, doesn’t cut it. I will tell you the story and the verse tomorrow.