Feeling like you don’t know how to teach your children about faith? Me too.

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Matthew 18: 2-4 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

One of the most humbling things I have encountered in parenting is the shear number of things I have discovered that I do not know.

It’s not that I’m afraid of not knowing things – it’s that I actually feel like I know less every year (day) that I’m alive.  Or perhaps, I am being humbled at a faster rate than I am learning things. 

Life has a way of doing that, doesn’t it?

My husband and I came into this parenting thing thinking it was out job to teach our children.  And it is, of course.  But there are things I thought I knew, and now I know that I don’t know them.  There are answers I have given that have now proven faulty, and things I’ve tried to teach my children, only to discover that they are unlearning something better that they already possessed. 

How is it that the things I thought I knew no longer feel certain, and the things I thought I was teaching, I end up feeling like the student?  Maybe children are an example of a certain kind of wisdom that life washes off of us if we don’t fight to keep it.  Or maybe these lessons required the accompanying humility that my children have ushered into my life. 

One way or another, I am a student in my own home, more than I ever could have imagined.  As parents, we may have more knowledge and experience, but I’m finding that some of the hardest things for an adult to learn come naturally for well-loved little ones. 

(I add the caveat “well loved” because, as we all know, sadly life hits some sweet children too hard and too fast, and they are forced for survival to let go of their innocent wonder, unquestioning faith, and fearless receipt of affection). 

As parents, we may know more of God’s Word, but our children know more about pure faith. 

We may know the gospel of Christ, but they know far more about how to depend on someone else’s finished work.*

We may tell them that every good and perfect gift comes from above, but they know far better how to ask and receive.*

I may teach them about the meaning of the Sabbath, but they teach me how to rest.* 

I teach them the words “God is love,” but they teach me how to live loved.*

I teach them that God calls us His children; they teach me how to ask for good gifts.*

I teach them that God says we’re made with eternity set in our hearts; they teach me to dream of a life of greatness.*

I teach them the words and the melody of “Jesus loves me”; they teach me what it looks like to walk as if it’s the song of rejoicing being sung over your life. 

Their imaginations are vast to consider the wonders of God. 

Their hands are not too proud to open up and receive a present. 

Their hearts are not too guarded to be loved unconditionally. 

Open, humble, dependent.  

Made in the image of the Ultimate Creative Genius, these little ones have an imagination that cannot be contained, an appreciation and wonder for things of beauty and curiosity.  I watch and learn again how to see God, how to find joy, in caterpillars and clouds and cotton candy.   

Before becoming a mama, Jesus’ words to become like little children rolled off of me with a nod and a passive agreement that I should learn to lean on Christ.  But watching my children has planted a longing in me to be transformed into the kind of person who knows how to climb into her Daddy’s lap and be held

Watching my children challenges every last cell of pride in me, and moves me to wonder if true maturity for the Christian isn’t completely upside down.  Not so much about improving, doing more good and less bad, and more about learning how incredibly broken and in need of help we are…relearning how to yell “Daddy!!” from the sidewalk where we skinned our knees.  Relearning how to say “Help!,” when we don’t know how to do something new.  Relearning how to hide behind my Daddy’s knees when something is new or scary.  Relearning how to say “I’d really like a hug,” or “Do you think I’m pretty?” or “Do you like my painting?” Relearning how to yell at the lies that come against us: “That can’t be true because my daddy says so!” 

A well-loved child naturally looks to a parent or trusted adult to know if their ok, to gain strength and confidence. And whatever they face as they grow up, I always want them to lock eyes with us, and ultimately with the Lord, when no other face or place feels safe.

And isn’t this what we are all trying to teach our souls to do with our Father in heaven?  To look up and lock eyes when we are afraid, confused, uncertain, or in need of a reminder of who we are?  To let God be our confidence, our hiding place, our refuge and strength?

I want to live like a well-loved child before my Father in heaven.  I know that my children know they are loved because they have no shame in expressing what they want and need.  They know the source, and they come with freedom and confidence, to me, to their daddy, and in their prayers to their Good, Good, Father…just the way the Bible tells us to come.  My children receive expressions of love and affection unreservedly, just the way I want to receive from our Heavenly Father.*

Motherhood has tucked inside a beautiful invitation to bear witness to the ones that Jesus called our example.

I’m through with trying to know it all.  When it comes to teaching my children about things of faith, I will take them by the hand, and teach them what I know,  with open eyes and an open heart to learn from them, too.  Being a mama has revealed to me the deep wisdom Jesus shares as he tells us to change and become like little children.

We can have the right answers, spend a lifetime going to church, become a Bible scholar, and still what we need most to know the heart of God, is to approach him with a heart like a child…bringing only our need.  Hallelujah.

 

*Bible references:

Matthew 18: 2-4 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

Hebrews 4: 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

John 16: 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.

James 1: 17 NIV Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

Hebrews 4:9 NIV There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God…

John 19:30 NIV When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

1 John 4: 7-8 Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.  Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

Ecclesiastes 3: 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Zephaniah 3: 17 The Lord your God is with you; the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.

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