We could barely turn the page, knowing it meant accepting the reality that Little Britches would lose his father. At the vulnerable age of eleven, it was more for young Ralph Moody (whose cowboy mentors had nicknamed Little Britches) than losing his dad. It was losing the epicenter of his reality, the well from which he drew life-sustaining water. It was losing the bedrock upon which he could laugh, play, and have wide open spaces to make the big mistakes every boy must make. It was losing his True North.
Joshua, my own little nine-year old, and I were snuggled up together on his bottom bunk, both of our faces wet with tears. The story of this young boy had transported us from our suburban 21st-century life to an early 20th-century homestead on the arid plains of Colorado, just a stone’s throw away. More than that, Little Britches’ story was transporting us into a Greater Story more poignant, valiant, and beautiful than we had words to describe. And because of his story, we could see and feel this Greater Story more vividly than we ever could have without him.
Our shared tears proved testament to the unspoken reality tugging at both our souls. Our hearts were breaking for young Ralph and his family, but there was more to our feeling than empathy. If Little Britches could lose his dad to a tragic accident, what do our hearts do with the fact that Joshua is just as vulnerable to losing me? In that sacred moment after finishing the story, we held each other tightly in the silence of his small bedroom under the cover of night, receiving comfort and assurance from our Father in Heaven whom we can never lose and who has promised us that the day will come where Joshua and I will be together with Him in His Kingdom, inseparable forever.
Heaven touched earth in that moment. As Jesus describes it, “The Kingdom of God was at hand.” All through the power of reading aloud a great book together.
It wasn’t the first time for us.
Thanks to several mentors (chiefly the directors of Preschool Partners, Jim and Mary Kretchman) who urged us to cultivate a culture of reading aloud daily with our kids, we have regularly been swept up together into stories of Kingdom proportions. And these stories have served as both compass and manna for us as we travel together this unchartered, narrow road of sonship and becoming good soil.
One of our covert missions as parents is to invite our kids into the Largest Story of all. Yet there is a natural law that holds sway for us and our kids alike: we will all gravitate to the largest story we can find. Therefore, we must be fiercely intentional about the stories that both we and our kids encounter. Particularly, we must take responsibility for the scale, heroism, and richness of the version of God’s story we are sharing with them. Our goal is to show them that only God’s Story is colossal enough to contain the breadth and depth of their hearts and desire.