I’ve shared in my bio on this blog page how I grew up in church and even had a profession of faith at a very young age, but it wasn’t until I was a young adult that my relationship with God became my own. Throughout my years as a child and teenager, I’d unwittingly based my relationship with God on my parents’ relationship with God, instead of believing that He would ever speak to me on my own. When I married, I simply switched from depending on my parents’ relationship with the Lord to depending on my husband’s relationship with Him, still not truly believing that God was interested in speaking to me personally. I spent a lot of years looking to others’ relationships with God and not realizing that God wanted to speak to me personally.
Thankfully, God didn’t let those lies stand. He fought for me to be able to begin to believe that that He would actually speak to ME and show Himself to ME, that I could hear from Him and experience the work and guidance of the Holy Spirit in MY life. That journey from depending on my parents’ relationship with the Lord, then on my husband’s, and then finally having a truly real and personal relationship with the Lord for myself has made me realize how important it is to do what we can to foster the relationships our children have with the Lord, helping them understand that He loves them personally and that He wants to speak to them personally, that just because they are young does not mean God does not have plans to speak to them, to guide them.
God’s shown me that I need go beyond teaching my children scripture to memorize and teaching them Bible lessons. I need to show them what a relationship with the Lord looks like. I need to show them that I believe God loves them, wants to spend time with them, and wants to speak to their hearts about who they are and who He is. I need to talk about the here and now of what God is doing in my life, having open discussion on how God is working in me, letting them see what that means and what it looks like.
An example has been set in Scripture that parents share with their children what God has done for them, how He has rescued them, how He has blessed them, how He has shown Himself mighty on their behalf.
“For the Lord will pass through to slay the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood upon the lintel and the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come into your house to slay you. You shall observe this rite for an ordinance to you and to your sons forever. When you come to the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall keep this service. When your children shall say to you, What do you mean by this service? You shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, for He passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt when He slew the Egyptians but spared our houses. And the people bowed their heads and worshiped.” -Exodus 12:23-27, AMPC
“You’ll shall explain to your son on that day, This is done because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt. It shall be a sign to you upon your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance at this time from year to year.” -Exodus 13:8-10, AMPC
“And those twelve stones which they took out of the Jordan Joshua set up in Gilgal. And he said to the Israelites, When your children ask their fathers in time to come, What do these stones mean? You shall let your children know, Israel came over this Jordan on dry ground. For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up for us until we passed over, That all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty and that you may reverence and fear the Lord your God forever.” -Joshua 4:20-24, AMPC
“Therefore you shall lay up these My words in your [minds and] hearts and in your [entire] being, and bind them for a sign upon your hands and as forehead bands between your eyes. And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates, That your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” -Deuteronomy 11:18-21, AMPC
God called the Israelites to set aside days of remembrance on their calendars (the feasts and festivals of the Old Testament) as well as sometimes physical monuments to remind themselves and their children of what God had done for them, that He had been at work on their behalf. They were supposed to make a point to include their children in these dates, feasts, and monuments and tell them about what God had done for them.
I’ve realized that I don’t do this enough with my children. Many of us will share a Bible story or lesson with our children and talk about what God did in the Bible, but we don’t talk about what He’s doing in our own lives today. We need to share with our children what God has done for us as individuals and as families. Bring it to their attention where God has been at work. There are many ways we could choose to do this.
- Display scripture verses in the house that have meant something to us personally. (Example—Last Christmas we were given a wooden sign with a verse that God used to get me through a tough time in my life on it. As we’ve hung that up in our home, I’ve been able to share with our children that God used that verse to help me through a difficult time and what the verse has meant to me.)
- Keep other things around the house to remind you of things God’s done. (Examples—some people have something they carry in their pockets that reminds them of something God’s done for them. My dad has a picture of himself that he keeps in his wallet from before he was saved. It reminds him of what God did for him in saving him and it gives him opportunities to share with others the change God made in him when He saved him. There might be an instance where God has worked on your family’s behalf, so as a family, you choose an object to display that will remind you of what He did.)
- Set aside dates for remembrance, maybe mark your calendars to remember that “On this day, we saw God do this or God answered this prayer.”
- Set aside time regularly to talk about “God sightings,” sharing with your children how you’ve seen God at work recently and letting them share with you ways they’ve seen God at work.
Talk to your children about what God’s doing in your life, what He’s done for you, how He’s answered your prayers and come through for you. Maybe there are specifics of situations that they don’t need to know, but tell them what you can. It’s important. They need to know. Along with the Bible stories and lessons we share with them, they need to hear the stories of God being at work in our lives. We talk to our children about God all the time. We read the Bible together and talk about what it means. But we need to make it more personal than that. They need to know and see Him at work in our lives.
Sharing what God has done for us will likely mean that we have to get a little more real with our children, that we share with them the struggles we’ve had so that we can tell them how God helped us overcome it. If we don’t share at least some of the bad, the struggles, or the temptations we have faced with our children and how Jesus helped us in them, then we are in danger of raising Pharisees or causing them to become disillusioned with God, with themselves, and with others when they realize life can be hard and every human makes mistakes.
When we don’t show that we struggle, it feeds the lie that we as Christians have to be perfect and have it all together. Letting them see that we are battling something, whether it’s depression or fear or worry or whatever it may be, shows them it’s okay to struggle, that we will face struggles in this life as Christians. And then letting them see that God has empowered us to overcome gives them hope that He can do the same for them.
Inviting them into some of our struggles will help them begin to flesh out how to have that kind of relationship with the Lord. I was struggling recently and felt God lay it on my heart to ask my husband and my two oldest children to pray for me. It gave them an opportunity to be a part of something God was working out in me and they got to see Him help me overcome as a result of their prayers. In the past, my battle with depression enabled me to help and encourage one of my daughters as she went through it. Prior to that, she’d wondered what was wrong with her. She’d thought that, as a Christian, she wasn’t supposed to struggle, wasn’t supposed to ever experience any unhappiness or depression. Sharing with her my own struggle helped her to know it was okay to struggle and that there was hope to overcome.
Sometimes the things He shows us or does for us are inward things, but we need to make them outward things and share them with our children. Show them how to have a relationship with Him, show them how He has worked in our lives, let them see real life examples. And encourage them that He wants to do this same thing with them. He wants to be real and personal to them. The reality is this will have to happen at some point. Their relationships with the Lord will have to become their own and not dependent on others if they’re to be real relationships with the Lord that last, that give them a firm foundation to stand on. And we, as their parents, may have to watch them struggle as they do that. We need to take the time to help them set up those memorial stones in their own lives as He commanded the Israelites.
God is calling us to walk out our faith before our children and to talk to them about it as we do. God calls us to share with our children, not only His Word and about Him, but what He has done in our lives, the miracles He has performed on our behalf, the prayers He has answered, the ways we have personally seen Him work in our own lives, how He has changed us and is n the process of making us new.
Has the Lord saved you? Has He rescued you from a lie you were believing? Has He answered a prayer? Has He helped you through a dark time? Has He blessed you? Has He been with you through good and bad? Has He shown you Who He is as you’ve walked through this life and stepped out in faith and obeyed Him in situations that the world would say are impossible? Share those things with your children. Show them that God is ALIVE and WORKING TODAY in you, and that He desires to do the same in them.
“Then we Your people, the sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever; we will show forth and publish Your praise from generation to generation.” -Psalm 79:13, AMPC