I’ll admit this up front, I’m still new at this whole “parenting” thing. I have a 4 year old daughter and a 2 year old son, and it still kind of boggles my mind that God believes that I have it in me to take care of these little ones and lead a family. In spite of my constant state of learning, there is one thing that has been hammered into my brain fairly regularly over the past couple of years. Maybe this truth resonates with you: Time moves so fast!
Sure, seasoned veterans impart this nugget of wisdom on new parents all of the time, but you don’t realize the profound reality until you’re in the middle of it. There are constant reminders along the way, of just how fast things are moving. We throw the diapers out. We get rid of the bottles. We go to Christmas programs. We tear up at Kindergarten graduations. We go to countless little league games. We watch them go from barely talking to talking non-stop. We see them awkwardly stumbling around to running full force down the field.
I could go on, but there’s too many phases and transitions to count. Suffice to say these will shoot by if we’re not careful and we may miss opportunities along the way.
Psalm 90 is a challenging passage of Scripture. It’s described as a prayer of Moses, and it’s contents are all about living and seeking God’s favor while fearfully respecting God’s wrath. Life is short, Moses writes in verse 10, “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.”
My favorite verse in this Psalm is verse 12:
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
I know plenty of parents who don’t want to acknowledge how much time they have left until their children graduate from high school. It can be a difficult pill to swallow; yet when we are armed with this truth we are free to begin to lead our families intentionally.
To clarify, when I mention leading our families intentionally, I’m talking about actively participating in the spiritual growth of your own children by pointing them toward God. As a parent with all of four years experience, I’m grateful that there isn’t some hidden, difficult strategy to doing this. After all, Jesus himself told his followers to have faith like a child (Luke 18:16-17).
So, how do we get started?
1. Begin where you are.
I remember taking my daughter to her first swim lesson. She was so tense and she wrapped her arms around my neck and her legs around my waist that I literally did not have to hold her. Everyone at the pool that day could hear her shrieks as I walked her into the water. I was envious of the other parents who lounged on the chairs as their kids sprung effortlessly off of the diving board.
However, I was determined to look my daughter in the eyes and tell her (about one thousand times), “it’s going to be okay”. It was slightly embarrassing to be the guy with “that kid” at the pool, but you know what? We came back. We returned to the pool the next day, and she screamed again…but not as much. That was where we started and things got smoother from that point forward.
This is how it is when we first begin to pray together. It may be awkward when you first open your Bible with your kids. It’s weird when a switch is made in what music is listened to in the car.
Awkward. Weird. Foreign. These words represent necessary seasons to fight through in order to point your family toward God. Don’t give up after a couple of eye rolls or refusals to participate. Press on! After all, we’re responsible for faithfulness; not the fruit.
2. Use natural times in the day.
Every one of us is busy. Super busy. Like we really have room to cram one more thing into our schedule!? I couldn’t agree more with this sentiment. So, what if, we utilized the natural times that occur in our day to point our family toward God?
That’s what Moses told the Israelites to do, way back in Deuteronomy…
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Talk with your family all the time about God. About what His word says. Pray to Him regularly. When you’re at home, before bedtime or around the dinner table. When you’re driving from place to place. Use whatever time you’re in the same place and insert a prayer, or a Bible verse, or an encouraging word.
Over time this will build a foundation.
3. Write handwritten notes.
This is something that anyone can do. It doesn’t take any money at all to make a big impact in this technologically expanding world. Seldom does anyone get a handwritten note anymore. It almost becomes a treasure when we do receive one, after all; someone took the time to pull out a pen, hunt down a piece of stationary and write.
Handwritten notes communicate, “I am thinking about you.”
Find a 365 day devotional book, or check out the verse of the day on the YouVersion Bible app, and take that verse and write a quick note to your child. Encourage them from God’s word as you are encouraged.
I’m determined to make the most of these next 14-16 years of my life to point my family toward God. I’ve only just begun and I’m already fighting through the awkward stage. My prayer is that you will acknowledge the precious time that you have with your children. May that realization provoke you to intentionally point your family toward God and help you gain a heart of wisdom.