Updated: Nov 3, 2018
I have always imagined that I would someday find myself in a scene from Jesus Freaks, imprisoned for my faith in some remote and godless land where they wouldn't even let me have my Bible. What would I do without God's word for light in a very dark place? What would I do without encouragement from other believers? I would, of course, have a piece of chalk like in the movies. And I would, of course, start writing down every last word of scripture that I had memorized throughout my lifetime. And I would write them, of course, on the walls of my cell...because that's what you do when you're in prison.
How many verses could I write? What would I remember word for word? "All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so the child of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." His Word matters. It is God-breathed and equips me for every good work. If I say that I love His word, do I know it? Really know it for a lifetime?
There are a few things as a parent, I really want to give my children. Sleep is one. Healthy eating comes close behind. I felt warm fuzzies head to toe when my oldest son, Samuel, thanked me for making a kale pesto salad for dinner. I had finally arrived in my parenting career (for a few brief moments before food went flying and complaining started up again).
There are other hopes on my list. Love for good literature, joy in being outdoors, a sense of adventure, a strong work ethic, deep human kindness, the list is probably a little too long and ambitious. But, if I had to choose one thing to top them all, one gift I'd like to give my kids even if it meant that all these others fall to the wayside...hands down it would be a love for Jesus Christ and His word.
Now, I realize it is ultimately the Holy Spirit who works faith in my children, in any of us. But I believe we can model a love for Christ that's passionate and vibrant and alive. We can show our children what He's like in our love for them and others. We can read His word and share our faith findings with them before they can read it for themselves. We can model faith that transcends "Dear God, thank you for this day." And when we fail, which of course we will do at times, we can model humility, confession, and asking forgiveness.
The best way I know how to give my children these gifts is by helping them enjoy the experience. When I read them excellent literature, I don't force them to sit up straight and tall and not talk out of turn. Instead, we hang up our hammock, cuddle in the warm afternoon sun, and let the words sweep us away. When I make a nutritious meal, I don't force it down their throats (although this is often tempting). I talk about how much I enjoy the flavors throughout the course of the day. The children help me prepare the vegetables, smell the herbs, and sample the sauce. We make the experience of healthy eating enjoyable. When we go for a hike in the woods, I don't force them to march in a line at a breakneck speed, we stop and wonder at a leaf, or a nest, or a mushroom. We pet the moss atop a rock or smell the pine forest or listen to the nearby cardinal's song.
I want to give my children the gift of knowing and LOVING God's word for a lifetime. I want them to be thrilled at opening it's pages, in wonder of what they will discover next. I want them to think about it when they sit in our home and when they walk down the road. I want them to sing it when they're lying in bed, and even move it with their sweet little bodies.
And so I wrestle with this notion of giving my children the gift of loving Christ and His word. How can I make every moment of them interacting with His word magic? Recently I tried this approach:
We made our best batch of homemade hot chocolate, started a fire in the fireplace, and nestled in under a warm blanket. We took several of our Sing, Move, and Memorize books and delighted ourselves in the experience. I sang God's word to them as Charissa pointed to the pictures and turned the pages. Benjamin mimicked the baby sign language. Samuel sang with me. Then, we scanned the QR code and listened to Miranda Craig's angelic voice fill the room. It was magic.
What is more, I have noticed their interaction with each Bible verse when they think no one is watching. Benjamin sings "Trust in the Lord with all your heart..." while he's doing legos with the door closed. Samuel sings "Our Father, who art in heaven..." when he wakes up too early and is lying in bed. Charissa chews on one of the books and plops down in my lap hoping I will sing it to her.
They have managed to memorize these few Bible verses, not just for a day to recite for a quiz, but for a lifetime; so that if they should ever find themselves imprisoned for their faith in some remote and godless land, their mama has given them the gift of a prison cell covered in the very words of God that have been sung over them again and again.