You're With Your Children, But Are You Present?

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"Mama, all I want to do is to be with you. Let's spend as much time together as possible," Joy said before she returned to a far-away home at the end of one long visit. Being together and being friends is what she longed for--the comfort of being with someone who knows you, validates you, loves you with all of your warts and takes time to listen.

Over and over again in the Gospels, we read that the disciples were "with" Jesus. Our Lord developed the hearts of his followers by spending time with them—instructing them, advising them, modeling right behavior. He spoke with them one-on-one and in small groups. He included them in His ministry and in His daily life. But what we never see Him do is sign them up for activities and programs!

In contemporary society, we tend to value activity, and this is certainly true for most Christians I know. We don't want our children to miss out on anything. We take them to church on Sunday, to a Wednesday Bible memory class, and perhaps to a Sunday night youth meeting. We are on the go for God. We are busy doing may activities and going to this meeting and that seminar and one more lesson.

Church discipleship and meetings can be great. My own children benefited greatly from Awana--but it was at home that they learned to believe the verses, to love the God they were studying, to take to heart what God was speaking because we were appealing to their heart through our daily love.

How many minutes every day does the average woman spends with her eyes glued on a screen,looking to see if someone else will have thought of her or validated her? I also wonder how many moments each day a mom looks into the eyes of her child in order to be present, to listen, and to hear the unspoken hopes for a time alone with mom. How many opportunities do we miss to cultivate that friendship as we pass through the wasteland of busyness and distraction?

 All of the "going" in the world will not make us or our children spiritually deep and alive. It is only by coming to the living God and developing intimacy with him that we will really draw near in our hearts to Christ. What many in our culture don't understand, and many more forget, is that a relationship with Christ is best taught through a long-term personal relationship with someone who knows the Master, and reflects Him personally in all the moments of life--not through activities organized around lots of people in impersonal and distracting instructional situations.

Jesus didn't meet with his disciples once a week for Bible study and then say, "I'll see you next week!" or "I gave you your 15 minutes today."

He gave them his whole life. He lived with them, slept with them, traveled with them, and lived out a life of godly maturity before their eyes... In the same way, our children will learn righteousness best by seeing it lived out in every possible way in our lives, moment by moment, in the context of normal life. The first principle of reaching our children is that we have to make the time to be with them--so that when they grow up, they will want to be with us!