When our children learn to ride a bike, we hold onto the seat for a bit, then run behind – but we’re quickly outpaced.
They grow, we teach, they try – and when they succeed we let them explore further and further.
We want the best for our kids, right?
Or do we?
Do we want the best faith or do want to control our child’s faith?
Granted, as the primary faith trainer we shouldn’t throw up our hands and let them choose their way when they are old enough – we still have God given responsibilities to guide and protect. But how long do we hold on to the seat before we start running behind them…and how long do we run?
If our children are to grow in their faith – to truly make it their faith, we have to let them own it. We have to trust God. And that’s hard.
Before Christ left this earth He promised to send an Advocate – a teacher that would teach us everything we needed to know. Newsflash: That teacher is not you. It’s not the Sunday School Lady and it’s not me. But I think we often only allow room for our children to be taught by pastors, teachers and parents.
Over the past few years, God has opened my eyes to what the Spirit can do in the life of a child. That’s also let me see how we stifle.
Have you ever though: “My child can’t understand that”, “My child won’t do that”, or something similar? I have. And I’ve even thought that about the children I work with.
Last year I took a chance while our church children were worshiping through song. During the last song I invited them to find a quiet place and spend a few minutes praying. I didn’t think anyone would – it would mean being different; it would mean responding to the Spirit’s leading.
But lead He did. Many children prayed, some for upwards of 5 minutes…and none ridiculed. In the time since, we’ve done that again and again and not once has the freedom to move about been abused.
This past week, as I worked out the lesson for our children’s service I built in a time for them to respond to what God was saying through His word. I put up two trees and a cross. During the lesson I referred to them and let them know what could happen there: At the first tree, a symbol from Eden, children could confess their sins through prayer and, if they desired write them on a leaf. The second tree symbolized the tree in Revelation – a hope of healing for the nations. Children could respond by thanking God for the hope they have in His return. Lastly, they could sit before the cross thanking God for the forgiveness of sin.
I expected that some children would do something but most wouldn’t do anything, so I was prepared to move on quickly.
Everyone responded. There were kids at every station. I was even asked if they could go to more than one station.
Perhaps I’m the only one with small faith, but I don’t think so. We need to trust God and let our children fly. Maybe that’s what Provers 22:6 is about.