The time right before Noah goes to sleep is the sweetest time of my day. My wife and I take time to hold him and read to him from The Jesus Storybook Bible (which by the way is awesome!) Afterwords we hold his tiny little hands and pray with him. We look forward to it the entire day. It’s such an amazing time we get to share with our child as he is growing up. This is what we call keeping the main thing, the main thing!
Before I tell you about the three free gifts any parent can give their child (for free) I want to tell you about of the greatest gifts a child can give to his parents. This gift is awesome, and trust me…you’ll want this gift!
A Parent’s Greatest Gift
One of the greatest gifts a parent receives from their children is the opportunity (and responsibility) to see their children come to know and understand God. I often imagined what it would be like one day to cuddle up next to my little one and read to him the great historical accounts of how God has worked in centuries past.
Creation. The faithfulness of Noah. The great flood. The splitting of the Red Sea. The passover account. God’s faithfulness to Israel despite their unfaithfulness. The incredible Gospel narratives. The choosing of the disciples, and the great hope that brings to guys like me. God’s incredible conversion of Paul. The understanding of God’s new covenant with us. How we are no longer strangers, but friends of God. How only God can taken something broken and useless, and make it into a Masterpiece. How God completely and totally redeems our life, and gives a joy that few on Earth can totally understand.
The Bible is very clear about our responsibility as parents to foster our children’s Spiritual growth (Deut 6:5-9) and trust me when I say it’s a responsibility that brings with it deep joy. It’s awesome how God planned the whole thing out.
It’s a gift to us to our children grow in their understanding of God, and it’s a gift to our children to understand God. Amazing!
Another crazy thing about all of this is you don’t get your gift before you give your children theirs. In fact your gift is dependent upon giving these three gifts. Don’t worry they’re free!
Oh, and trust me. Your kids will like these three gifts even better then an iPad!
You ready? Here we go.
Free Gift #1 – Teaching Your Child To Have Total Dependance Upon God
When Noah was born I made a commitment to pray for him every single day. Now God isn’t going to get upset at me if I forget, or get a headache and turn in early. I don’t get earn some kind of God brownie points or anything wacky like that (to quote Chris Rock, “You don’t get brownie points for something your supposed to do!) I just know how powerful, and priceless prayer is.
When we pray we are showing our dependance upon God. As you pray with your children you are modeling that dependency for them. Children watch their parents like a hawk, and they learn to develop their habits (both good and bad.) As they watch and learn from you the hope is they to would develop a life long attitude of dependance on God.
It changes ours (and our children’s life). It’s epic. And it costs you and I nothing (expect some time.) What a great privilege we have as parents to interact with the Creator of the cosmos on our child’s behalf!
Pray for your children’s future. Pray for their present. Pray for their love of God to grow Pray when they are sick. Teach them to pray for others who are hurting. Teach them to confess when they blow it (which means you to have to confess when you blow it. And yes, we parents sometimes blow it.)
Do you have a habit of praying with your children? I hope so.
Free Gift #2 – YOU
I have worked with teenagers for over a decade now and it saddens me to see so many dads miss out on this incredible season of life. I’ve met countless teenagers would tell you the gift they want more then anything else in the world (even more then an iPad or Playstation) is
simply a dad who they can have a relationship with. I would add to that, a dad who is committed to the Spiritual development of their family.
Sadly, I don’t have a single childhood memory of my father reading The Bible to me, praying with me, or taking me to church. While I certainly missed out on something special, it was my dad who really missed out.
So dads my challenge to you is this: take time every day to teach your kids about God. Pray with your children. Go to church with your children. Read The Bible with and to your children. It doesn’t have to be anything super “spiritual” or “weird.” (People always want to seem to get weird when The Bible is involved for some reason…Don’t be weird.)
Variety is important in anything, So get creative!
Maybe go for a walk to the local McDonalds for an ice-cream cone with your 11 year old. As you are walking ask him to tell you his top three questions about God/The Bible (which also means you have to spend some time reading yourself!)
As you give your little one year old girl a bath, talk to her. As you scrub his her arm and legs remind her that God created those little limbs. That she was made in the very image of God, and that God specifically and purposely knitted her to together in her mommies womb. Remind her that she is greatly loved by God.
“Each day of our lives we make depostis into the memory banks of our children.”
I know there are lots of parents who are already living this out, and to you say, keep it up! Your investment now will reap great dividends that will stick with your children for the rest of their life!
For others, this is an area that has been a struggle. You haven’t been consistent with your walk with God in your own life. Guess what? With God (as long as you are still living) it’s never to late!
Free Gift #3 – Two Words
To my fellow parents, let me give you two words that you need to memorize and say often:
You may have to apologize to your children for not stepping up and fulfilling your God given responsibility to develop them in their Spiritual journey. However, it’s worth all of the hard work. Your life (and your children’s) will never be the same.
There’s no perfect family, and no two families are the same. God is interested in telling a very unique story through your family. A story He isn’t any telling through any other family on this planet. He wants to use your family. Your story. In a way you will never understand this side of Heaven.
No matter what your past five years (or past fifteen years) have been like why not make a commitment today to invest in your child’s spiritual journey. Turn the tv off. Unplug the internet. Shut the phone down. Do whatever you have to do to be certain you (and your child) don’t miss out on one of the best gifts a parent could ever give a child; a parent who helps cultivate their child’s spiritual journey.
You can do it! In fact God created you to do it.
And I promise, even though they may not know it now, your children will come to appreciate these three free gifts more than any i device. I promise.
What are some of the things your family has done to help your children grow in their relationship with God? (No sunday school answers please! 🙂