Ask any of my children about their enduring memories of childhood, and one of them is bound to mention family devotions. They still chuckle about the Alpha and Omega day, when I drew an overview of Scripture on a chalkboard and told my ten-, eight-, and six-year old children that God was the beginning and end of all things and their lives were part of his story. "Will you live by faith?" I passionately asked, and was met by their wide-eyed nods.
To this day, twenty years later, they remember that devotional morning. They remember the rhythm of faith and prayer that set our days as a family.
They also recall the way that faith became real when they saw God actually answer our prayers. One particular morning stands out in all of our memories. The first years of Whole Heart Ministries were years that required great faith from us. We moved to the middle of nowhere, Texas, lived with my mother-in-law, and began to outline and write the messages we wanted to give to parents.
But it was all very much by faith, and there came a time early on when Clay and I realized that we would run out of money by the next month. I remember that morning clearly; the bright Texas day and my children laughing and fussing, squrming in their breakfast chairs.
We didn't tell the kids everything, of course, but we wanted them to be part of this life ofaith, to take part as a family in trusting God. So when we came to prayer at the end of our devotions, we told them simply that we needed to see God provide for our family. Would they pray that, too?
Their little faces grew very solemn (though this did not in the least stop their squirming). They squeezed their eyes shut where they sat at the table and each of them prayed in their high voices that God would give us what we needed.
Clay went straight to his office after breakfast, and the kids and I finished the dishes and gathered everyone to start the day. But before we could begin, Clay was back with news of an amazing discovery. On picking up the morning mail, he found a magazine notice for a paticular lawsuit. He quickly realized that he had an interest in the suit and, upon calling the firm, discovered that this was the last day to put in his claim.
The amount paid would provide for our family for the next few months. When we told the kids, their eyes were wide with wonder at the fact that God had answered their prayers.
"Mom," said Sarah, "God really heard us, and it worked."
The most important gift you can give your child is to help them begin a walk of faith with the God of the universe. From the moment your children arrive in your home, you are teaching them how to see the world, what to consider important, what to seek, what to love.
As a mother, you have the opportunity to form your home and family life in such a way that God's reality comes alive to your children each day.
We live in a busy, pragmatic society driven by performance and activity. In the realm of parenting, this is a particular influence as we moms feel the pressure to provide the best education, the best lessons, and the best meals. We want our kids to have character, we want them to clean their rooms, and we want them never to be lonely and to have all the music lessons and activities that they want.
But the thing your child needs most in the world is a heart that knows the love of his or her Creator.
The greatest gift you can give your kids, a gift they will carry with them into each relationship and situation of their lives, is a heart deeply centered on loving God and a life formed by the habits of faith.