As my husband tucked our then three-year old son, Ian, into bed over 14 years ago, he held his chubby little face in his hands and told him, “Ian, you're going to be a big man someday. And you're going to follow Jesus, aren't you?” Ian responded with a quick, “Yep”, and then paused momentarily adding, “Where's He going anyway?”
I couldn’t help but smile when my husband told me of this exchange with Ian, but I have to say as I recall this that Ian gave both an awesome response and offered a thoughtful question.
Ian’s response (“Yep”) showed that he trusted the character of the God he’d heard us read and talk about. He trusted us. He knew we didn’t lie to him. He exhibited the childlike faith Jesus speaks of in the Gospels. He wasn’t cynical in his view of God because of he hadn’t experienced life’s disappointments. He simply trusted us. If we said God could be trusted, that was all his little mind needed to know. Period.
I love the question Ian asked that night. It was a reasonable one. When someone asks us to go somewhere, our first response is usually, “Where are we going?” As the years passed, we did tell Ian and his sisters that following Jesus meant going places that were uncomfortable and involved sacrifice. It meant dying to self. Paul describes the life of a Christian in this way, “…all those who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (II Tim.3:12) Jesus also said these words: "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
As moms, we know it’s our responsibility to be deliberate in teaching our children to follow Christ no matter what the cost. This teaching comes with a challenge for us as well. Are we willing to follow no matter what the cost? Our children are watching to see if we practice what we preach. It’s pretty hard to be a hypocrite at home. But it can be difficult to trust God when all we see are circumstances that seem dire. We can become cynical when we know how disappointing life can be.
How do we maintain a rock solid trust in God instead of being given over to worry? I’ve been reading from the book of Mark and it is packed with miracle upon miracle that Jesus performed. Mark 6 records that as Jesus entered His hometown those He grew up around discounted Him and “He was amazed at their unbelief.”(Mk. 6:6) It is so convicting that He finds our unbelief incredulous. If the God of the universe has made all of creation and redeemed us by His Son’s sacrifice, then of course He is offended when we don’t believe.
As we teach our children truths about God’s character, let’s remember ourselves that He is unchanging. Though our emotions may be all over the map, He never changes. Then we can answer confidently as Ian did when asked if he’d follow Jesus--even though we don’t know where He will take us because we know He can be trusted.