And he [Jesus] took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them. Mark 10:16 (NIV)
Like so many, many MANY young adults today – I grew up going to church every week, following the example of my parents. When I reached college and was able to freely make a decision to stay connected or not – I chose “not”. I had no personal knowledge or relationship with God so making a weekly pilgrimage to a church was not a high priority.
Then I became a “Mom” and the reality of evil that permeates the world got my attention and caused me to begin again to attend church and take my children. I became sometimes overwhelmingly involved in church activities. I had a large circle of friends that met my social needs and included a connection between our children. Looking back now, I see a wonderful social circle of caring and support but little in the way of personal spiritual knowledge that forges a relationship to God.
My children are grown now and the truths that I could now pass on to them and their children are these:
1) Pray. Pray that their children will find God as the answer to that ‘hole’ in their lives. Like a loving and tireless shepherd, Jesus is out there looking for all His lost sheep. Pray that when Jesus is standing there with outstretched arms that your children will respond.
2) Walk out your own life in Truth with the Holy Spirit. Speak and do only what you know and believe. Your child has been given discernment to ‘see’ a hypocrite at a very early age! If you don’t know – say, “I don’t know” and “Let’s look for an answer together”. What a great opportunity to ‘touch base’ with your child, sit down and look in God’s Word and seek answers together. And when you come to that HARD QUESTION: “WHY?”
· “Why am I still alone?”
· “Why am I different?”
· “Why did he/she have to die?”
· “Why is this happening?”
I believe God answers this question individually. The answer that works for me may not (even probably will not) work for my child. God is truth. God is faith. God won’t leave us. God will answer. Keep asking. Keep listening. God will answer.
3) Let them work in God’s Kingdom doing what they love to do. Like baseball? Start a fellowship group to go to games – and begin the Bible study in the fall after the season. Working parents? Church Movie Night with child care provided – soda, popcorn, and a DVD! Short devotion before you break for the night. See where Jesus will meet His children!
Jesus went out to people where they lived their lives and spoke about relevant topics to ‘catch’ them and then brought them into theology. Many times it was the person who brought up God – not Jesus. (Like the Samaritan woman, John 4)
Whether in music, with guitars and drums and contemporary styles – we must go to our young people and draw them in with language that relates to them and speak to how much God is relevant to the activities and questions they have. We ‘water’ them with God’s Spirit and they will grow into the deep roots that come with study and a relationship with God.
I won’t know the full story this side of heaven on what I did obediently to God’s direction and what I didn’t in raising my children. It is in what I said and didn’t say, what I set as priorities and what I didn’t, and what I valued and what I didn’t that I pass on to my children whether I am aware of it or not. In the end, my children and grandchildren’s journey of faith will be as unique as mine. I will continue to pray that when Jesus meets them – they will respond.