God's VERY Good Idea with Trillia Newbell

God's VERY Good Idea with Trillia Newbell

Today, I get to introduce you to my friend, Trillia, who has been with me since the very beginning! 

When we met, we were both publishing our first book and we were both so nervous. We’ve both been doing public ministry for awhile now, almost a decade! She wrote a book called God’s Very Good Idea that you all need to check out. It’s all about how God in His creativity made differences in us and that creating everybody differently was a part of His plan.

I hope you enjoy this conversation about creation, how God made us, and why He made us, with my friend Trillia! 

 Let’s start with your book, where did the story of your book come from for you?

God's Very Good Idea actually came from me teaching in our Sunday school at my local church. I was looking for a curriculum and I wasn't planning to write anything, but I couldn't find something that was gospel centered and also celebrated the beauty of diversity.

So, as I was looking and not finding what I needed, I wrote it myself, and I’ll never forget teaching the little people and their little eyes opening and wide and asking all these questions. When I got home, a friend of mine called me and said that her daughter (my daughter's name is Sydney) said, “Mom, Sydney is not just my friend. She's my sister.” 

That is magic.

It was. I knew if the Lord would allow, I wanted to get this in the hands of as many family members, people, mentors, and anyone who would read it to a kid. The Good Book Company took a chance on me, and it's been such an encouragement to see how the Lord has used it

Let's talk about God's very good idea, because it was a big idea and it was a very good one to create the earth. So, talk about creation and what Genesis 1-3 means to you. What was the very good idea?

Well, He made it all and He said it was good. And then He made us and He said, very good. So, one of the focuses of this book, and something I try to instill in my own kids, is that they are made in the Imago Dei, the image of God, to reflect Him.

He's given us aspects of Himself to glorify Him on this earth. And even though He created all of these things, He was mindful of me.

Psalm 8 says, “what is man, that you are mindful of us?” That’s amazing. Because we even though we ruined His good idea through sin, He still rescued it through Jesus. One day He'll make all things new, and I'm incredibly grateful for that.

For me, it's a beautiful picture of God's love, His care, and His delight in us that He would be mindful of us and created us uniquely different. So, we’re all the same, but yet we’re also all so different, and that He has created us with value and worth. That's something that I'm trying to instill in our kids. If we can get that into our heads, that will affect the way we relate to everyone

We don't have this in our heads. That's one of the passions of the series. It isn't just for kids, it's for adults too. We've got to know the answers to these things. We've got to understand how creation shapes our view of ourselves and our view of God.
The fact that God spoke those simple words and made man, and then He looked down and said, it is very good that there was delight over us, that we are not a mistake even though we have made mistakes. While we have brought about wrath and darkness through our choices in this world, there is hope because we were built by God and there's innate worth in the fact that we were created by God.
Let's talk about the Imago Dei, which is basically that we were made in the image of God. Talk about what that means to you. Especially in these very difficult times as there's so much conversation about our differences and our ethnicity. What does that look like to understand that this is a good thing too? 

For me personally, it means that God has given me value and no one can take it away. Not a single person can take it away.

There will be people who will look at me and think that I'm not valuable. There will be people who will look at those who are different and unique and various ways or ethnicities and say that they’re not worthy. But God says we are. That’s something I preach to my own heart.

parent and child walking

It helps fight the fear of man and being afraid of what other people think of us. It helps me to walk in assurance and in pride, not in an arrogant sense, but a pride that God has given me value.

It allows for a type of peace that only God can give. It informs my sorrows because I know that all people, whether they know Jesus or not, are made in the image of God.

I think that's something we need to understand. In creation we see that God has given us His image, regardless of what we actually know about Him, and it’s remarkable that He’s that generous. This informs the way I view other people, and this should inform the way we treat other people.

That's why, when we say that we love our neighbor as ourselves, that commandment that God gives us, it's here regardless of what they believe. It is a hard commandment, but as we understand the Imago Dei, it will work itself out in the way that we treat others. 

I do believe that it’s important to understand that we were made in love and that we were birthed from the Trinity that loved each other and wanted to bring more people into that love. It helps us understand the heart of God in a deeper way. This isn’t a bad plan, it’s just a messy plan.
There are days it feels like we're in the darkest parts of the story. Lately, it’s felt like the sky is falling from every direction. How do we reconcile that with a good God that created a good creation? 

Part of my reconciling is reminding myself that He is good, He is perfect, and He is pure. We are not. We sin against each other. We're going to do terrible things to each other because of our tendency towards wrong things. It's not a surprise to me that we are divided. However, that doesn't excuse it - I want to be really careful. Because we still want to repent and ask the Lord to change us.

girls talking

We need to draw near to each other. We can’t just throw our hands up. But we want to fight against that through the love of Christ. But it's been very hard. It's been a season of a lot of sorrow and a lot of pain.

But God understands every weakness. He's been tempted in every way, but without sin, He wept, and He understands sorrow. He was a man of sorrow.

If we understand those things, it helps me to kind of make sense of this world. I don't blame God. I think we are the problem, but He's redeemed it through His Son. I also think we're not living in the reality that He bought. Right? Ephesians 2 says the veil of hostility has been broken down and completely torn in the body of Jesus, but we aren't living in that cosmic reality.

Our unity has been bought, and it has been bought at a great price. But we don't walk in that.

However, I have a lot of hope that we can. I don't think it's going to be perfect because nothing will be perfect until Jesus returns. But I do believe that we can work towards that.

I saw someone who shared recently that they wouldn't do this work if they didn't have that hope of Jesus. I joined in that sentiment. I would not speak about restoration, racial harmony, reconciliation, and God's very good idea if I didn't believe in the cosmic reality that's been already bought for us and the reality of the hope that we’re looking to, waiting for, and longing for. 

Let's talk about heaven. What do you think that will be like? What do you look forward to about heaven? Because we go to the end when we're at the beginning. The reason why is because we learn a lot about the end from the beginning.
When you look at creation in Genesis, you see how God created the earth before sin. Therefore, we see how it was supposed to be. What do you look forward to when everything is made right again?

Not just in this season, but in every season, I think of Revelation 21, where every tear will be wiped away. All of this unrest, all of the tension that we experience, all of this hate based on skin is gone. All of it.

Someone once said, “if you hate diversity now, you're really going to hate heaven.” The truth is we won't hate heaven because we'll be glorified, so we will be without sin. We will be perfect and in perfect harmony together, and it’ll be glorious.

God didn't have to say that every tribe, tongue, and nation will be reflected in the new creation.

He didn't have to say that. He could have just said that we will be together as one. But no, He maintains that every tribe, tongue and nation will be together worshiping as one. It's going to be beautiful and glorious and loud. We will all be falling on our faces before Jesus unified, every tongue and nation. That beautiful diversity is going to still be there. I think it's going to be glorious. 

I wish you could see Trillia's face right now. Her smile is so big. I just think it's such a reflection of the hope that is so real in you.
I think of the verse that says we're not left as orphans. God is with us. He is issuing His Spirit to issue hope to us. We aren't despairing in the midst of this. I hope that you hear why this all matters so much.
If we understand creation, if we understand where this is all headed, the story of God, if we can get our head around that, we can understand our part in it. That’s our heart in this. We’re not dismissing the difficulties that you’re facing or the difficulties you’ll face in the future. We’re saying there is a God that issues hope in the midst of our difficulty. So, we don’t have to be afraid when we face our difficulties. 
Trillia, the next thing I want to talk about is what you would say to kids that need to understand this. Kids that want to understand right now who God is and why He created them. What would you say in a simple way to them?

I would say to the little heart that God made you to reflect Him. He thought of your curly hair, He thought of your freckles, He thought of your fair skin or your brown skin. It was God's idea to create you. He has created you to play, to jump, to think, to read, to love other people, to know other people, to love Him, and to know Him.

I really do believe, and I'm talking to parents now, if we can help kids understand that God has created them, that God is our friend, and that they’re created to glorify Him and love others, then the rest will work itself out. 

Amen. That's exactly why we're doing this series because we really feel like if we can cover these big rocks, such as, who is God, what is sin, who is Jesus, what did He do for us, and where are we headed? If we can understand all of this, a lot of other things get taken care of.
As parents, we can feel so much pressure to understand everything about the Bible and try to answer every question when that's not at all the point, nor could we ever do it. I mean, as a seminary grad, I don't even have the tools to answer half of my kids' questions. I have to go look it up.
Take the pressure off and be explorers with them. That's our dream for this project that we're working on right now with Theolaby, that it would be the parents getting what they need from God and then taking that to their kids. We want it to be a circle where God and the parent and the child are learning together and experiencing together. It’s a relationship together. It’s exploring and being creative and understanding who God is together.
When my kids ask me tough questions, I’ll say, “let’s ask Him.” Because I don’t know the answer! It’s showing them how to talk to Him and how to model reconciliation and relationships with other people. Our kids don’t see perfect parents. They see processing and they watch us wonder and ask God and ask other people how to handle things. The pressure comes off, and we become a team figuring this out together. 

I couldn't agree more. That’s basically our parenting style, too. We don't know all the answers, and it would be foolish for us to say we do. I tell our kids we’ll be learning about God for eternity. We’ll ask Him all the questions because we just don't have a clue. Therefore, we will look to the scriptures. We’ll pray and ask the Lord for answers, but we're just doing the best we can.

I have little thinkers.

I’m always in trouble because I don’t know half of the answers to the questions they ask. But modeling that allows them to be curious.

When my son was four, we were driving in the car and a Christian song was playing. I said something to my son about the Lord, and my son looked at me and said, “Mom, I don’t believe you.” I said, “what do you mean buddy?” Then he said, “well, where is God? I don’t believe it. Show me where God is.” Then, he started to name all of these superheroes - he was thinking about his little figurines. So I looked at him and I said, “Lord, can you show up in a burning bush? Right now would be a good time.” I don’t know what to say! But I looked at him and said, “well, buddy, I can't make God appear to you, but He is real. And I can pray that one day He'll reveal himself to you.” And he said, “okay.”

dad and son hugging

What God did for me right there was reveal to me that I can’t transform his heart. I can’t make him know God. Only God can do that. My job is to share the good news.

I’m going to share the gospel, tell them about Jesus, and model abiding in him. But I can’t transform him. I can’t prove Jesus to him. Only God can reveal himself. That freed me up a lot.

If you know Jesus, you know that moment where you couldn’t see, and then you could. There really isn’t any other explanation than the Holy Spirit who does that. So, we pray this for our kids.
What we know is that life doesn’t get easier, and the enemy seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. This seems a little backwards, but I want to imagine what it’s like if we don’t get creation right.
What if we don’t believe it’s a very good idea? Can you play that out for a minute? What happens to our worth when our identity isn’t rooted in being children of God? 

We're going to try to find our identity and hope in something. We're all worshiping something or someone. If you don’t find it on God, you’re going to find your hope and value in something that is sinking sand. It will be empty.

For example, if I, as an African American woman, believed my value and worth was in the opinion of the KKK, let’s just go extreme, I would be discouraged. I would feel worthless. I would assume that I was less than human. That road would lead down to a deep depression if I didn’t think my value and worth was rooted in the Lord. Therefore, this is of utmost importance, especially when we’re talking about ethnicity.

Knowing whose you are and who made you is going to ground you and give you a type of peace that no one can take away. You can apply this to anything. You can go off the rails if you put your hope in anything but Jesus.

I have seen this with my African American son. At different points in life he has wondered aloud, “can I go get skin like yours? Can we go take this off and get skin like yours?” I remember that early on. I wanted him to understand that his skin color is not something we take apart. That he’s not just a child of God, but that God also made his skin color.
You’re not worthy because you’re human. You were set apart in the way that you were made uniquely. We’re afraid of some of that uniqueness. I wanted to have you on to talk about in all of our differences, whether it’s things we can control or not, there is strategy and purpose. I hate that in any way there’s shame attached to the way we’re made. That’s where we fight back. We say those things are not true.
I tell my son that it’s very good he has dark skin and that he was born in Rwanda. It’s giving him identity in his sonship as a child of God, but also in the strategy and placement of where he was born, who he is, and what he looks like. I also want to say to parents that we can’t separate the creation from God. He created it! And it was good! There’s so much detail and uniqueness and we can’t pass over that and pretend it isn’t there. 

My prayer, especially for the church, is that we would reflect what we will one day be for eternity, which is a multiethnic, beautiful, every tribe, tongue, and nation together unified. I long for that. I pray for that and I believe God can do it. My hope is in Jesus, but that is a hope that I would love to see on earth as it is in heaven.