Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words that I give you today. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you’re at home or away, when you lie down or get up. Write them down, and tie them around your wrist, and wear them as headbands as a reminder. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.
“Bedtime” can often be a long process in our house. There are many steps that must be taken to prepare my children for the sweet “goodnight.” After baths, lotion, bedtime snack, bedtime drink, bedtime stories, rubbing backs, family prayer, Bible story, hugs, kisses, and more back rubs…they are finally…finally ready for bed! Some would argue that I need not let them take advantage of their mommy at night (including my husband!), and those people may be right. However, some nights I give in to their pleading and requests. I rub my sons’ backs an extra five minutes, I give three more kisses, and I squeeze them with one extra big hug. For I know that one day they will stop asking for their mommy to tuck them in bed. One day they will not be here in my home. One day they will be putting their own kids to bed. So, I savor the little moments while I can.
One evening in particular, my son was having a hard time falling asleep. He said he was scared of the dark and did not want to be alone. So I snuggled up next to my boy, and took him in my arms. And we prayed together. I prayed for him to not be scared, and for Jesus to lay down next to him in bed through the night. I prayed aloud, and I thanked God for keeping us safe and for always being with us. As I opened my eyes, I looked up at my sleeping baby boy. He had fallen asleep. He had fallen asleep because his mommy was there, reminding him that God was there.
This moment was a sweet reminder of how much we teach our children about the qualities of God. Do our actions teach our children that God is trustworthy and faithful? Do our words and prayers teach our children that God is sovereign and mighty? Do our choices teach our children that God is Lord and worthy of our praise? When I was with my son, I prayed aloud so he could hear me. I prayed for my son to not be afraid, because I knew that he could hear me. If he could hear me speak to God and declare that He is with us and we don’t have to be afraid, then maybe he would believe it for himself. My son found peace to fall asleep because he saw his mommy trust God, and he was therefore taught that we can trust God. We teach our children how to perceive God based on how they hear us pray to God and relate to Him. How we interact with God teaches our children who He is, what He can do, and what a relationship with Him should and could be.
What are we teaching our children about God? We can take our children to Church and read them Bible stories and tell them scriptural truths, but the most influential teaching tool we have for our children is our ACTIONS. Our actions are more powerful teachers than our words. Do you find it hard to respect somebody who says one thing, but does another? Is it not difficult to trust somebody who has a “do what I say, not what I do” attitude?
Our need to model a life that trusts God as Lord and Savior, is more important and vital now that it has ever been. We watch the news, we turn on our phones, we step out the front door, and immediately we are confronted with the sin and brokenness of this world. What are we teaching our children about God in the midst of mass shootings, gender ambiguity, world-wide conflict, and broken families? How do we explain to our children what is going on in the world today? We may not have an answer for our children when they look up at us and ask, “why?”, but, we can teach them that God is trustworthy when we get on our knees and pray to the Lord as a family. We can teach our children that God is our provider, when we turn to God in the midst of losing our job. We can teach our children that God is worthy of our obedience, when we do what God is telling us to do. We can teach our children about the love of God, when we love our spouses and interact with them in a loving and patient manner.
Will we be perfect? Certainly not!
Will life be messy? Absolutely!
Will we have an opportunity every day to blow it? Of course!
But will we have an opportunity every day to show them that God is who He says He is, and that God will do what He says He will do, and that we are who God says we are? Yes! Everyday.
What are we teaching our children about God? What spiritual foundation are we laying down for them? When our children are adults, will they have to tear down the faulty foundations we are laying down for them now? Or will they be able to build upon the firm foundation of faith we are laying down for them now? If we do not teach our children to follow God, the world will teach them not to.