"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up."
Deuteronomy 6: 6-7
Big blue eyes filling up with tears and a hoarse whisper made me pay attention.
"Mama, Can I speak with you alone?"
Busy with rocking Joy as she was dozing off to sleep and waiting to put my two loud boys to bed with a kiss and prayer, I was surprised to see the serious concern on Sarah's face.
Finally, I had a quiet moment to speak with her much too late in the night.
"Mama, I don't know if I believe in God any more. I am trying believe because of everything you have taught me, but I have so many doubts, fears, questions and I wonder if God ever listens to my prayers.
Almost 13, I knew that as a budding young adult, the darkness of the world and several very difficult personal issues had confronted my sweet, here-to-fore innocent daughter.
She was the first of our four to voice the doubts that haunted her in the darkness of her bedroom. Eventually, the doubts came individually to each of our children. There is a process of discipleship that had to take place in the midst to help them keep going. As I look back over the years, by standing with them through challenging times, telling them that God was big enough to handle their doubts, loving them when they were easy to love and when they were thorny, God graciously allowed us to help our children keep walking, keep choosing to believe, though all have walked through seasons of darkness. Believing forward in their lives, speaking into their great worth to God, giving them a sense that each choice of faith matters was the mantra of our voices in their lives.
At least for the moment we see them making choices to follow. And so Clay and I continue to pursue them as faithfully as we are able.
God had his prodigals and He was a perfect Father. Yet, a picture of God throughout all of scripture is a faithful, constant Father, lovingly pursuing His children, seeking them, dying for them, teaching them, calling out to them to follow Him, love Him and wait for His coming at the end of the age..
How important it is for us to remember and understand that Satan was casting shadow on God's character and casting doubts about God's trustworthiness from the beginning of the creation of man. It is not because you are a bad or inadequate parent that your children doubt God and Christianity, but instead it is a profound part of our battle.
"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." I Pet. 5:8
With the world falling apart at the seams, we need to give our children, (and ourselves), strong foundations of faith. Cultivating understanding, belief and trust in God are the most important priority of our lives to be faithful to build. All of the other accomplishments in life are second to passing on faith. The wonderful news is that we have an advocate, the Holy Spirit, God Himself, who cares even more that our children can grow and come to belief. You are not alone.
"So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ." Romans 10:17
All of our lives, if we are believers, our goal is to relate to God, His purposes, His plans, His personal love and involvement and love for us, and His faithfulness to us, no matter what assails us in our lives. It is our glory to walk with Him every day until we see Him face to face.
So often, I see younger women fretting about educational issues and worldly accomplishments in the lives of their children. Focusing on the temporal and being distracted by daily duties can take our eyes off the fact that the battleground for life is for hearts and souls coming to God and holding fast to him. It is the issues of faith that need our fervent attention. The world that my own adult children have entered is a world filled daily with temptations and discouragement and challenges. I see so much how tending to their hearts and souls while they were children in my home has given them strength and fortitude to face the obstacles in their lives that come every day.
When they are confronted by such serious issues, they need to have the voice of truth speaking to them from all that they have stored up in the recesses of their hearts and minds.
The most profound gift parents can give to their children is a true, heart-felt, foundational wisdom of faith that will carry them through all the seasons of their lives.
"And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him." Hebrews 11:6
As I reflect on the ways we built such a faith into the lives of our children, so that, by God's grace, up to this point, they have held fast to their love and faith in God, was based on 3 aspects of faith.
- All children and adults need to have a basic knowledge of the corpus of faith from Genesis to Revelation. I am basically talking about an overview of scripture: The overall story of God as found in His word as well as the stories of those who walked with God to give them a pattern of faith. Reading the Bible and teaching the stories is over a long period of time--at least 18 years--so do not feel you need to tackle the whole Bible in one year. Little by little building your own knowledge as you build your children's knowledge.
- Modeling the action of faith and teaching the footsteps of faith at each juncture of life is essential for believers to learn what is looks like to live everyday through the pathways of life, trusting God. For instance, when a trial occurs, (illness, financial issues, relational issues, etc.) the way a parent responds to God in faith is how a child will learn to live by faith. If a parent says, "Our God has promised to meet our needs, so lets ask Him to give us wisdom in knowing how to approach this situation." And then if the parent moves forward by trusting God and not complaining or whining then the child learns that trusting God is real in personal moments from watching an older wiser person live in the reality of God's presence amidst life every day.(Part of you cultivating faith is finding people that give you a model of what faith in the midst of trials looks like--or gathering mentors through books as I did.)
- Finally, there is one last aspect of faith that is necessary for our growth. All of us need to understand that faith is an action that moves us forward in taking risks to see God move supernaturally through our lives to bring His light and kingdom to bear. If a parent tells a child to live by faith by taking his light to the world, then the parent should be one who starts a Bible study by inviting people to their home, or serving at homeless/refugee shelters/teaching a children's class at church, etc. Faith moves a person to act for love of God. In order for us to have the reward of our faith, by seeing Him work, we must step out to trust God by reaching out to a lost world. It is in a ministry life that we sense the presence, wisdom and blessing of God upon our lives and better understand His sacrifice. In giving, we receive--but faith is the energy that takes us to this active, engaging life with God.
Precious ones who are reading this, I want you to know that I understand that your road with motherhood is so often exhausting and tiring. I am spending special time tomorrow praying for you to know the sweet love and peace of our God and to be encouraged in knowing that you are not alone and that what you are doing is of eternal importance.
May you be blessed and blessed with truth and grace today.
I hope you will join Kristen Kill and me today as we share some of our thoughts about how to teach and cultivate faith in a fallen world so that our children will learn to have hope for the times in which they live.
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