People tell me they remember their kindergarten teacher, and kindergarten friends. I have no recollection of kindergarten at all. This used to trouble me until my parents let it slip that I didn’t go to kindergarten. Apparently you had to be five years old by the start of classes to attend kindergarten, and I didn’t turn five until November, so I missed the cut. The next year they tried to enroll me in first grade, but the school told them that I had to be six, and unfortunately, my birthday fell in November again that year. Something similar happened the next year when they tried to enroll me in second grade. By the time my parents realized this was going to be a recurrent problem, I was 14, and too old to start school, so they my only vocational option was something that didn’t require an education. That narrowed my career choice down to scarecrow or pastor. Given the honor afforded the one job over the other, the choice was easy. Before long, however, the crows lost their fear of me, and I entered the ministry.
Actually, I was accepted into first grade at the age of five, so kindergarten was the only school year I missed. It was much later that I found out that, for most people, everything they need to know they learned in kindergarten. “Well that’s just great,” I thought. “I missed everything I need to know. That explains a lot.” While my peers were in school, learning to share their toys, wait their turn, play fair, tie their shoes, and what time it is when the big hand is on the three and the little hand is just past the four, Mom had me on a strict home regimen of Romper Room, Captain Kangaroo and The Lone Ranger. While I was, out of sheer boredom, plunking out the tune to Perry Como’s version of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” on our old upright piano in the basement, the advanced kids were learning their ABCs to the same tune, which would come in handy when they were later introduced to Dick and Jane.
But when I think about it, that year wasn’t a complete wash. From Romper Room, I learned there were Good-Do-Bees and Bad-Do-Bees, and I should try to be a Good-Do-Bee. From Captain Kangaroo I learned that if I didn’t find my life’s calling, I could end up like Mr. Green Jeans, wandering around in overalls without anything much to do. From the Lone Ranger I learned to help others, and leave a bit of silver behind before riding off into the sunset. (I had in mind silver bullets, but come to think of it, Silver must have left a bit of himself behind wherever he went, too). Try to do good, find your calling, help others, and share. It’s like I went to a “virtual kindergarten.” You might say I was on the cutting edge of long-distance-learning. Nevertheless, sometimes I still wish I had gone to kindergarten like other children, particularly when I want to tie my shoes or figure out what time it is.
A new believer is like a child in kindergarten. Everything is new to him, and he has to learn the fundamentals. He has to learn about the inspiration and preservation of the Scripture; God’s creation of man; our tragic fall; our total inability in our fallen state to love and obey God; he needs to learn about God’s wonderful plan for our redemption. Yes, as a believer, he already knows that God’s love sent His Son to live and die for him, but he may not know how that plan was foreshadowed in the law and the prophets, and he almost certainly doesn’t yet understand that it was the Lord who set His love upon him, and brought him out of darkness and into His marvelous light. From the new believer’s perspective, he recognized his sin, repented of it, and transferred his trust to the sinless Son of God. The truth that God is the “author and finisher of his faith” has probably not yet been revealed to him. So, like an infant, he needs the milk of the word. The best thing he can do is immerse himself in the Scriptures, and find a church where God’s Word is faithfully proclaimed. There, he should seek a mature brother to come alongside him to help him to grow.
I was blessed in that my wife Donna and I came to faith through the testimony of my brother Doug, and he was there to guide us to a good church and disciple us in those critical early days. Captain Kangaroo had his Mr. Green Jeans, The Lone Ranger had his Tonto, Silver had his pal Scout, and Romper Room’s Miss Nancy had her---Miss Nancy had her---I don’t know---magic looking glass? Okay, maybe Miss Nancy didn’t have anybody. But that’s not the point. Everything doesn’t have to get tied up in a neat little box, does it? If that’s what they taught you in kindergarten then you’d have been better off hanging out at my house, watching The Lone Ranger. Come to think of it, by the end of each episode, everything on The Lone Ranger did get tied up in a neat little box. Alright! So maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about! Cut me some slack. I never went to kindergarten.