My kids were playing outside as a storm rolled in. I saw a flash and heard a boom. So, I called them inside. My youngest daughter was apparently really scared when I called them in. I gave her a hug, told her she was safe, and sent her to play with her siblings.
About 15 minutes later, she came to me and said, “I safe cause I got God and dad.”
It was adorable. She is right. She is safe because she has God and her dad.
I love that she put God and dad in the same category. Yes, dad is human. But sometimes I think parents forget that children are shaping their view of God based on your words, actions, and character. You are the most important person in their world. You are teaching them about God. Though they can’t see God, they see you. Thus, they are connecting your qualities to God’s qualities.
My daughter sees her dad as a protector and defender. Dad is strong and fierce. No one and no thing will hurt his baby girl, if he can prevent it.
God is also our protector and defender. “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you, and protect you from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).”
I’m not sure that she sees that parallel at the age of 3, but I hope one day she will.
Parents, we are giving our children a glimpse of God through the way we parent them.
As Christians, we should want our children to know the all-knowing, ever-present, consistent, loving, just God we serve. Our young children will not be able to wrap their developing minds around the character and nature of God, but the way we treat them and others around us shows them a glimpse of God.
If your discipline is inconsistent and based on feelings, they will not understand God’s discipline.
If you say one thing and mean something different, they will not value God’s word. They will not understand the concept of a never-changing God.
If you are constantly manipulating situations to get your child to do what you want them to do, they too will see God as a manipulator in the sky who gave free will as a joke. God can just make you do whatever he wants by changing your circumstances.
If you live one way in public and another way at home, they will think all Christians do the same. Therefore, they just need to put on a good front, wear a good mask. Sin all they want behind closed doors.
But all of these are the furthest thing from the truth. Our God is a good, just, and consistent God who loves us so much that he gave us the choice to love him back. He knows we cannot do it on our own. He’s not asking us to. He does not want you to pretend to be holy in public. He wants you to admit you are weak, so that you can be given a strength only he can provide.
Our parents are our first teachers in every aspect of the world. They teach us how to love. They teach us how to interact with others.
The way we respond to situations becomes the way they respond.
The way we talk to them becomes the way they talk to themselves.
And until they are really old enough to own their faith, the way we live our faith is the way they too will live their faith.
It’s a big responsibility. But I truly want everything I say and do to point to our Heavenly Father.
I know some people are reading this, and it’s striking a nerve. Maybe you are the parent of a prodigal and you are thinking, “I tried.” Please hear me, that’s ok. A relationship with God has to be personal choice. You can plant seeds all day long, but you cannot force faith. Only God can make that seed grow. Some people just take longer to reach that point. Some people have to hit rock bottom before they recognize their need for a Savior. Don’t stop praying for your child.
Maybe you didn’t have parents who pointed you to a loving God. Maybe your parents were like the ones I previously described. Or maybe you know someone who did not grow up knowing the true love of a Father. That’s ok. Talk to God about it. Trust me when I say, He knows. He was there. And He will use that pain to help you grow, witness, and further the Kingdom, if you let Him.
The sad truth is, we are all sinful. We all fall short. And even the best parents, will still miss the mark. This is why it is so important for the body to represent Christ.
Everyone needs Jesus, but not everyone knows that. We must share this good news. We must witness to the lost and hurting. And sometimes those people are in our congregation, friend groups, family… Don’t assume everyone who claims to be Christian has a true understanding of God.
We must come alongside of the prodigal, hurt child, and confused to point them to the loving Father who desires a relationship with them. Share the good news of Jesus. Share the character and nature of God. Share how God is working in your life. It matters! Keep planting seeds!