A study I was in once asked the question, how do you build a friendship? I very happily said spending time together. After all, this is my love language. There are times of hunkering in with God in our own little world working through life's issues. I thoroughly enjoy theorizing with my friends. The big picture fascinates me and I admit to struggling at times how the little things can make it there. Good thing my dear husband is an excellent detailed guy. It's like God knew ;-)
The most important life long relationship we can have, is with God. As I struggle to put together a bible curriculum for the boys, I analyze more the question with what do I want them to walk away with? Discovering God's nature and finding His will in our lives is a crucial skill. First what I hope, pray, want for my children is to KNOW God. What I don't want is rhetorical, factual, historical head knowledge. There is a vast difference in my opinion between knowing 'about' someone- say a friend of a friend, celebrities or a relative who has passed on- and knowing them personally. You find out what they like, don't like, what makes them feel loved, their pet peeves, their quirks. You get to know someone's heart. Their past, their dreams, their fears, their opinions, their relaxed sense of humor.
My husband and I have been married for 7 years this February. We have known each other for 9 years. My familiarity, love and trust in him exponentially grew the more I knew who he was and his character. I was drawn towards B for quite a while, but waited on God's timing. I intentionally tried to stay away and keep my distance. It wasn't time yet. There was a single incident that sealed the deal in my mind, this was the man for me. We were on a group time with 8 other friends when we witnessed the car that carried the other half of our friends in it blow a tire and flip end to end several times. The three of us in our friend's car got out and the first thing B did when he reached the car was lay his hand on the scene and he prayed. As a Christian woman, nothing said more about his priorities in a stressful situation, what grounded him and who He trusted and turned to than that action.
I pray our children's faith grows and matures. We start at this preschool age teaching them who God is and how special they are to God and how much He loves them. As they can understand, we will introduce all He's done for us. Through this exposure to God's character and actions I can only hope they grow to trust Him to meet all of their needs, that they will seek His guidance and comfort through out their lives. They will know in all circumstances God knows them intimately and will never leave them. They can cry, rail, ask, doubt, confide and laugh with the creator of everything in heaven and earth both visible and invisible.
We live in a country who knows about God. They may even believe in creation. I pray they know Jesus died for them. It stops there for many Americans. A casual label worn with out any change or sacrifice. A head knowledge that never penetrates their heart or as Max Lucado says 'like a fair weathered sports fan'. They don't care enough to actually attend the games or stick with the team with they are down. A die hard fan attends the games, wears the colors, talks about what the team accomplished, cheers them on, supports the coach and can't get enough of the game. These fans are participants, they use terms like our team and we won. They are rowdy, passionate and contagious. We live in a country where everything is tolerated, made a place for or not to be judged except Christianity. When someone is excited about the latest book, movie or artist to come along we are all curious and give it a chance for the most part. When Jesus' name comes up, there are instant walls of defense and eyes glazed over, people check out. Another analogy that resonated with me was that our faith is like a lighthouse to a boat being tossed during a storm. The boat is in direct and imminent danger of crashing against the jagged cliff, but they don't know it because they are enveloped in darkness. Does the light house ask for permission to shine? Does it set it to it's lowest setting afraid of overstepping boundaries? Or does the worker, desperate to help save the boat, shine the light even though the captain doesn't know it needs to be saved?
I agree with a blogger out that that said, "The bible is not to be read just like any other book." If it's only about knowledge and memorizing it's a waste. If it's only about knowing the books of the bible in order, knowing details, lineage or using the words to judge others then something essential is missed. If we spend more time bragging about our church or the work we do in it than our God, it's just busy work. It's not the goal to have a social club, to please our extended family, because that's what we've always done or because that's what 'Christians' do. It's not because we want morals or laws. It's because of a relationship with God. The world will pull you away from that, satan will pull you in any way he can. Maybe he'll succeed in keeping you from God by making you complacent, bored, scared, discouraged, beaten down or that you're so happy, wealthy, pretty that you don't need Christ. He'll use other people who don't know Christ to show you how exciting and self involved, aka empty a life with out His ways is. He'll also use those who appear to be Christians on the outside but have missed the ability to love, forgive and live through His power to convince you that it's not real. Satan can convince you that Christ would never accept you with all the mistakes you've made. He can convince you there are other ways to get to heaven including just being a decent person. How crafty, deceptive, sneaky and effective on a large portion of our country satan is.
I know very well I can't make this choice for my sons. I don't want to. It's not their choice then, it's not something that will penetrate their hearts and lives. I don't want to pressure or guilt them. We give our children rules to help prepare them for life as an adult. We try to provide the best moral structure, safe environment, nurturing home, open communication, rules and healthy eating habits we feel as their parents is best for them. We have the calling to live out our lives growing in our trust and obedience to the Lord by loving Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and loving others as ourselves. We can only rely on the promise of the bible to train a child in the way they should go and when they grow old they will not depart from it. This relationship with Christ is the best choice I have ever made in my life. I grew up knowing about; but not knowing the Lord. I remember many times as a child fearing to go to sleep at night because I didn't know what would happen to me. I was so scared of just ceasing to exist. My children will never know the pain and the overwhelming panic of that experience.