It is my heart to encourage God’s people to walk authentically with their God: honoring His position in their life as Savior, Lord and Friend. I received Jesus as my Savior as a nine year old, one evening laying in my bed–with such an overwhelming understanding of my need for a Savior. He also became my best friend at the same time. We lived on an island and I spent much of my alone time walking, playing and talking with Him. These are some of the things that helped foster my relationship with Him as a child.
I am so very grateful for meeting Him at such a young age. Parents, do not under estimate the impact of the Good News on your child’s life. That relationship, that began as a childhood decision, has carried me through so many hard and difficult times. It is interesting to note that my family did not do a whole lot to foster our relationship with Jesus on a daily basis. We did go to church and Sunday School on regularly and we prayed at mealtime. My first memorization of scripture encouragement occurred during an elementary Sunday School class at the First Methodist Church in Coupeville, WA. We earned a little gold cross sticker for every memory verse we learned. Somehow the competition and the encouragement of our teacher was enough. Parents, do not underestimate the benefit of consistently attending church with your children. If you feel going to church is a chore, so will your children. Setting the tone that it is a privilege and a delight to you, will help them as well.
Children are watchers. They are imitators. I watched my folks and listened to their conversations about the things of God. My dad read the Bible openly, my mom did not. There was a very real difference in the two of them. My dad always talked about God as if He knew Him! My mom talked about a more religious side of Him (the do’s and don’ts). It wasn’t until she was in her 7O’s that she finally had a definite encounter with Him. She changed, it was amazing. I started reading the Bible because I saw my dad reading the Bible.
Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 gives great insight into how to expose, educate and encourage your children to walk in God’s ways. Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone, As parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or simply close friends to young people, the greater we walk with God alone and not have other smaller gods as our idols; the easier it will be for them to want to follow Him. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength–if we develop a genuine love for the Lord, they will see. And your must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. It is often the daily choices we make that speak the loudest–not often the easiest either! Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. In other words, as you naturally go through out your day, making God and His ways YOUR ways, using the teaching moments that arise to share His truths will make the most impact. It becomes a good habit–sharing the wonders of His creation, your own answers to prayers or thanksgiving sets our own focus on things above and not beneath. This must be done from a heart of grace, mercy and love. Do not let fear become a motivating factor–we must exercise our faith and trust in His character.
I think another important aspects of touching your children’s hearts (or others) so they will taste and see that the Lord is good, is allowing the fruits of the Spirit to be developed in your life first. Not easy, is it? But so important to model and exercise self-control, patience and kindness in our actions towards them. The amazing truth we want to communicate to our children, is that they need a Savior, and He is available to them. How wonderful when we share with them our own need for forgiveness, not just in our initial salvation story, but throughout the day–even when relating to them. As a young mother, I apologized a lot–still do at times with my grandchildren. Yes, my buttons still get pushed!
Pray. Pray for your children, asking the Lord to reveal Himself to them. He knows them better than you do. We can do all these things, but it is so important that they have their own encounter with Him. Asking them to pray, and seeing those prayers answered, builds their faith and confidence in a God who sees and hears them as well.
This is not just a word for parents or grandparents. It really is a word for all of us. As we seek to influence those around us for the gospel’s sake: we need to keep Him as Lord alone, love Him with all our heart, write and share His truths as we go. As we seek to develop the fruit of the Spirit and demonstrate kindness and forgiveness we can’t help but shine His light in this dark world.