In my parents’ front garden is a statue of Jesus, sitting on a bench, holding two lambs in his arms. (Okay, so it’s actually a statue of St. Francis, but you’ll soon see why I’m calling it a statue of Jesus.) Many years ago, during a weekend visit to my parents’ house, this beautiful statue took on a whole new meaning to me.
Our three older boys had been playing in my parents’ yard for much of the morning while my mom and I were sitting on the front porch catching up. It was only when two of my sons came running up to me for a glass of water that I realized Brennan was no longer playing with his brothers. I searched the yard and all throughout the house to no avail.
My parents had just moved into a new home on a busy street so panic ensued quickly! I began yelling Brennan’s name for fear that he’d wandered off on his own and put himself in danger.
After what felt like an eternity, Brennan came running into the house, with a big smile on his face and dirt covering his feet, giggling, “I’m right here, Mom! I’ve been here the whole time.”
“Buddy,” I said with a huge sigh of relief, “Thank God you’re all right! Where have you been? I was really starting to worry.”
“Sorry, Mom!” he said as he pointed in the direction of the statue of St. Francis in my parents’ garden. “I was just hangin’ out with Jesus.”
“Wow, baby,” I said, a huge smile spreading across my face. “I love that.”
“Now can I go back outside?” Brennan asked.
“Of course you can, sweetheart. Have fun!”
When he ran back into the yard, gratitude filled my heart, as I realized I’d just witnessed God producing fruit from the seeds of faith we are planting in the hearts of our boys.
See, an important piece to helping our children grow in their faith is teaching them that Jesus longs to have a real relationship with them. As we introduce our children to Jesus, we want to personalize Him as someone to whom our kids can relate, someone who walked this earth, experienced all that they experience, and knows the depths of their struggles, their desires, their joy, and their pain.
Of course we want our kids to know Him as their Rescuer and Redeemer. We want them to know that Jesus is completely holy and His greatness and power is far beyond our human comprehension - which actually makes the fact that He draws near to us even more astounding. But! We also want them to know He is the very best friend they will ever have, faithfully walking right beside them holding their hand. We want them to know they can have a real friendship with Him.
When I am feeling weary in discipling my kids, or when I wonder if their hearts are engaged when we pray, or when I question if they’re even listening when we read Scripture or I get discouraged when I’m sure they're not, it helps to remember moments like the one in my parents garden. I couldn’t have orchestrated that moment on my best day.
If you can relate to growing weary or becoming discouraged in discipling your kids, can I encourage you with Hebrews 12:2? The Apostle Paul writes:
“Let us keep looking to Jesus. Our faith comes from Him and He is the One Who makes it perfect.”
In other words, as we plant seeds of faith in the hearts of our kids- seeds that help them trust Jesus as their Savior and experience Jesus as their best friend- we can remember (and anchor our HOPE in!) Jesus as the author and perfecter of their faith.
We are called to guide our kids growing in knowledge of Jesus and relationship with Jesus, but He and He alone will take the seeds we plant to perfect their faith and produce the righteous character we long to see in their lives. (Philipians 1:11) This is the Good News we can rest in!
All is grace,