But the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, That shines brighter and brighter until the full day.
We began telling our children about God's path of life from a very early age. We wanted them to envision their life as a path through a forest. Though they could not see God, they could imagine a path He has provided for us because He is good, and he wants to help us find a good life, and find Him. The abstract concepts of God, goodness, and life became more concrete for our children when we expressed them in an image that was familiar to them because they had walked on forest paths. They knew about the safety of the path, the weeds of temptation along it, and the reality of becoming lost in the forest around it.
God's goodness is the source and foundation of your child's developing character. As they learn to value that goodness, their character will begin to be shaped by it; when they receive Christ and His Spirit, they will continue to walk in it. But telling your child the abstract truth that "God is good" is not enough. They need images that will clothe that abstract idea with concrete words that will give them meaning. They need a well-formed imagination to "see" the truths of God about their lives. That's what C.S. Lewis meant when he said that "reason is the natural organ of truth; but imagination is the organ of meaning."
You may not have thought about it before, but character and imagination are symbiotic. Your child needs both to become a well-rounded person. In these last two or the eight heartbeats of parental lifegiving that we've been discussing, look for the connections. Here are two brief excerpts from those heartbeat chapters:
From "Cultivating Your Child's Character"
"At its most basic level, cultivating character is influencing your child's heart, or inner person, to value and desire the goodness of God--everything about Him that is aesthetically good (all that is beautiful and praiseworthy) and ethically good (all that is beneficial and true). Metaphorically, it means your children, with your lifegiving assistance, are setting the moral compass of their hearts by God's goodness, the spiritual equivalent of true north."
From "Forming Your Child's Imagination"
"Most Christian parents do not fear imagination, but neither do they especially respect its power in children's lives. It's easy to wrongly assign it to the category of pleasant childhood diversions that will pass in time as their children grow into young adulthood. But children's developing imaginations need to be properly fed in order to grown into mature imaginations that can anchor the deepest, most meaningful concepts in Scripture. A faith that in uninformed or uninspired by the images, metaphors, symbols, and stories of God's Word is in danger of becoming unimaginative and unanchored, weakened by an overreliance on reason, adrift on a shallow sea of facts and propositions."
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