God is in the Teaching
“Where is Jesus? I want him to come play with me.” -Ethan, age 6
When my eldest child was on his way, I did some deep praying and thinking. I wanted to be an intentional parent. There were many questions for which I wanted to make sure I had answers. Why is the sky blue? Why did you pick mommy? Why God? The last one is probably the most important question any of us can ask and seek out answers. I don’t mean “Why God?” in a melodramatic voice of Alan Alda anguish. I’m talking about the heart, mind, and soul experience of faith. I expect at some point my children we ask me why faith is important at all. Why do we worship? Why do we give offerings? Why do we attend church? Why God?
It will start with the conversation about why we as a family avoid shopping and going out to eat on Sundays. It will continue with the decisions we make – like putting church first ahead of ball games and tournaments. There will be that hopeful eye, as we give the boys a dollar on Sunday and encourage (but don’t force) them to put it into the offering plate. And here I want to point out that we do these things as a family, not because I’m a pastor. Neither of my parents are clergy. But you see, my mom answered the question. She taught me faith year by year in patience. My dad answered the question. He taught me to doubt and not accept the easy answers but to work at my faith. They instilled in me practices and traditions that I am trying to give to my children. They prepared me for faith.
August is a time for preparing for school. We get the lists from our child’s or grandchild’s school, we get the tax-free weekend, and we prepare. How are we preparing our children in faith? How do we talk about God’s word as we gather at table to eat together? How do we act out our faith by the simple choices we make in front of little eyes? How will we share Jesus so that he can play with the little ones?
I met a woman this week who told me about her family. She asked that I visit her daughter. “My grandchild saw a nativity last year and asked if the church was going to sacrifice the animals?” The child was not shown where to find Jesus. The child will not ‘play’ with Jesus. Prepare the children for faith. Be intentional about it. Don’t expect the preacher or Sunday School teachers to do all the work. We will help, but there won’t be any miracles. Faith is something that is instilled around the table conversations, while you are driving down the interstate, and in those crucial moments when you decide between grace and punishment. Prepare the children for faith. Faith is taught. God is in the teaching.
“Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.” -Deuteronomy 6:6-9