His thin seven-year-old body flopped onto the blue sheets dotted with baseballs, basketballs, and footballs, and he buried his head in his pillow as he mustered the energy for a tired groan, “I’m so tiiiiired!”
As I grab his Bible from the desk across the room, he protests, “Do we have to read the Bible tonight?” and again with more emphasis, “I’m soooo tiiiiired!”
Placing the Bible at the foot of my son’s bed, I begin to tuck the sheets around his body just the way he likes them and explain in a calm, empathetic tone, “No, son, we don’t have to read the Bible tonight. But, we get to read the Bible tonight.”
I continue to lay the customary parenting guilt on him including all the reminders of the children who don’t get to read the Bible, and who don’t know the name of Jesus. Okay, so I’m really not that great at the guilt part, but we did talk about those who have been unreached in the world and how lucky we are to have the freedom and resources to learn about God and His love for us.
Even as compassionate as he is, most of this goes over his head and he can’t imagine that there are children who don’t get tucked in to a warm bed, in a nice house, in a safe neighborhood protected by a loving God.
It’s funny the things that grab a second grade boy’s attention. As soon as he heard that Moses couldn’t look at the face of God or he would die, he was all ears and no longer sleepy. On this night, we would talk about the relationship – the friendship – Moses had with God.
After reading some passages of Exodus, and the fact that Moses was allowed to see God, even if it was only his back, I asked my son if he understood how Moses had a relationship with God. These are the types of questions that I’ll allow silence to hang in the air. I want my child to really consider and wrestle with the lesson in the verses we read together.
When the silence began to interrupt his careful consideration of the question, he begins to hum, “Ummmmmm… I don’t know how Moses became friends with God.”
I ask how he makes friends. School recently started and he’s made more friends than I can remember their names.
“I talk to them! And, I listen to them.” There was no pause between my question and his answer.
Bingo! We ended our Bible study with a prayer saying that we wanted God to be our good friend. We wanted to talk to Him and listen to Him so that we may grow our relationship with Him. Before we said amen, we prayed for those who don’t know about God or Jesus and don’t get to read the Bible.
I love these moments with my son. Our Bible study and prayer time together gives me the chance to talk to and listen to him. It also models something that has come to be very important to me, my faith. I didn’t always have a relationship with Christ. It’s not that I didn’t believe there was a God or that Jesus died for my sins; it was something I was aware of, but never really paid much attention to.
Following our prayer, I explained that it made me happy that he talked to God. I added that when I was his age, and even much older, I didn’t. This of course piqued his curiosity and he asked why. “Didn’t your Dad take you to Church?”
“Well, buddy, I didn’t really go to Church. And, you know, my Dad wasn’t around.”
With this answer, I began to truly understand the influence I was having on my son. I’ve always known the impact of a father, whether he was present or not, but this conversation with my young son overshadowed any statistics of the effects of fathers with its honesty and vulnerability.
“Where was he?” His innocence projected his misunderstanding that a father would – could – leave his child.
There’s probably a lot of truth to the fact that my image of God was a reflection to that of my biological father. Because of his absence, and the many well-meaning people that filled that gap, God was irrelevant. I was a well-loved child, but there was never a real discussion about building a relationship with my Heavenly Father. By default, I never paid attention to the whispers in the voids of my heart that there was so much more love for me.
Today, I hear those whispers. Sometimes they seem more like a roar. On occasion, that voice isn’t still or quiet, it’s a 2 x 4 to the face. Nevertheless, that’s how it is when you build an honest, open relationship with someone. It takes a lot of love to use that 2 x 4.
I want my son to have a relationship with God. I want him to talk with, listen to, and worship the same God that I talk with and listen to and worship. However, I don’t want him to have my relationship. I want my son to have his own relationship with our Savior.
Our children are ours for only a second. They are our Heavenly Father’s forever. When we keep this eternal perspective, not only will our own relationship with God grow, but so will that of our children.
- We don’t have to read the Bible tonight. We get to read the Bible tonight. (Tweet that!)
- There are children who don’t get tucked in to a warm bed at night. (Tweet that!)
- It’s funny the things that grab a second grade boy’s attention. (Tweet that!)
- I began to truly understand the influence I was having on my son. (Tweet that!)
- My image of God was a reflection to that of my biological father. (Tweet that!)
- I want my son to have his own relationship with our Savior. (Tweet that!)
- Our children are ours for only a second. They are our Heavenly Father’s forever. (Tweet that!)