It happened again, not too long ago. We were gathered around the table, Bible Story open. Matt asked the kids, “Who is the special baby God gave Mary and Joseph for a very special reason?” A child, who will remain nameless, enthusiastically exclaimed, “Moses!” Matt looked at me and I at him. You could almost hear our hearts sink to the floor in disappointed frustration.
Really?! Day in and day out we teach and train and listen and talk and this is all we have to show for it?! They haven’t even caught who the most important character is in all of the Bible?! At that moment we wished the instructions Jesus gave to his twelve disciples applied to us, “If anyone will not listen to your words, leave that home and shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14) 🙂 But, unfortunately, they don’t, so we have to figure out some reasons to persevere in this effort of training our kids in the way they should go. Because as long as their feet are still under our kitchen table, there is work to be done.
If you’re discouraged too, wondering what, if anything, is sinking in, maybe you’ll find some encouragement in these simple reminders like I have.
And, I should mention, these aren’t just for parents! I’ve seen some exasperated Sunday School/Children’s Church teachers throw up their hands in frustration too. (Maybe the fact that the aforementioned nameless child was chasing another child around the room during class was a contributing factor. So I guess this is for my kids’ teachers! Here’s some encouragement for the discouragement our family creates! ;))
1) Every time we teach them the Bible, we are helping stop their suppression of truth. God created all people – even our young kids – to have an awareness of Him. What can be known about Him is easy for them to see just by looking out the window at His creation. But in their wickedness, they are trying to keep that truth of who He is and what He has done from surfacing. They’re trying to hold down their accountability to Him with all their might. But, with each gospel reminder, the truth wiggles out from their strong force and stirs in their little hearts. Which also means, during times of greatest conviction, they just might seem most rebellious. They don’t like being confronted with the truth they’re trying to smother.
2) God is glorified when we declare the truth about Him. He is passionate about His own glory! On really bad days, I remember this. If nothing is sinking in, penetrating their willfulness, I comfort myself that God is being praised just by the truth that’s coming from my mouth, even if it seems to be falling on deaf ears. God loves to hear His glorious worth declared! If even the stones can cry out in praise to Him, then His character being extolled from this weary mom’s lips to disinterested children, can be an act of worship too. And that makes it worth it.
3) Faith comes by hearing, and the ears of the heart are opened to hear through the Word. God had to remind Jeremiah of the power of His Word during his difficult ministry to a disobedient people. “Is not my word like a hammer that breaks a rock to pieces?” (Jeremiah 23:29) That’s the reminder we need too since our kids’ hearts are rock hard. It’s only the sharp sword and blunt hammer of Scripture that can break through their stony hearts and change them into the broken and contrite hearts God loves. So we have to keep weaving the truth of Scripture into all of our instruction. Because hearing the Word is the means God uses to grant the gift of faith.
4) God uses their sin to show me what a piece of work I am. Ugh. I hate when that happens. About the time I’m thinking, “These pigs don’t appreciate my pearls,” I hear my own not-so-distant “oinks” in that oh so flattering reminder from 1 Corinthians 6. “[And] that (thieves, greedy, idolaters, sexually immoral, slanderers) is just what you were. But you have been washed (praise God!), you have been sanctified (amazing!), you have been justified (humbling!).” God often uses me most then, not in the (rare) moments when I’m on my A-game with a Bible answer addressing every heart issue, wielding my fully loaded gospel guns, but when I’m wallowing in the same muddy, filthy pit of sin they are. My hope is their hope. I am certainly not their hope. So I take myself back to the Savior of the same gospel I preach to my kids. And that’s just where I need to be. Well, there and…
5) I need to be in prayer before the throne of grace. But my prayers shouldn’t just focus on them and their needs. Pastor Ken pointed out in his sermon, “Contacting the War Room,” that the way Scripture usually tells us to pray evangelistically is not for the ones receiving the message (although that’s part of it) but primarily for the ones giving the message. God knows the harvest is plentious, but it’s the laborers who are few and struggling. So, as parents and teachers, we need to pray that God would make us willing to sacrifice for the message, grow in our holiness and application of truth, patient in our labors, faithful to seize gospel opportunities, unashamed in spite of their rebellious opposition, and willing to fearlessly and boldly withstand the warfare in this battle for their souls. In essence, I need to pray that God would be making me all that I want – or more so, what HE wants – them to be.
May God help us to remember His truth can conquer resistance, He loves for His worth to be declared, His Word is all-powerful, His grace compels the chief of sinners, and His servants are well-supplied for their mission. Now, I just might be ready to head into another day with these precious…pigs! 😉