Kids, Joy and God

Kids, Joy and God - Parenting Like HannahHave your ever surprised a young child with something they have wanted their “whole life”? If you have, you have probably witnessed pure, unsurpassed joy. In fact for many children, childhood is a time filled with joy. As time passes however, the joy seems to slowly seep out of life for many people and is replaced by what the French call ennui – fancy boredom.

The Christian life for many has a similar trajectory. The moments after a person puts on Christ in baptism and becomes a Christian are often very joyful. Soon the monotony of life intrudes though and Christianity can begin looking boring or worse yet, restrictive.

I want to encourage you to not only live a joyful Christian life, but help your children find and understand the joy in living a godly, active Christian life. There are a lot of things Christians can be joyful about, but in case you were puzzling what to share with your kids about joy and God, here are some of my favorites:

  • The joy of salvation. I know, you realize that, but how do you communicate it to your kids? Most young people don’t view death as a possibility in their lives, so talk of life after death may have little meaning to them. This is what they may understand and appreciate in this crazy, violent, scary world of ours. Being confident of a home in heaven releases you from a lot of the fear and “what ifs” in life. When I start worrying about the scary things in life, it always helps to remind myself of the big picture and my ultimate home in heaven.
  • The joy of knowing who you are and whose you are. If you talk to many people for very long, you realize they are in constant “search” mode. They are trying to figure out what their place is and what they are supposed to be doing. An active Christian should have a very confident sense of purpose. He has been given the most wonderful life assignment of all. To worship and serve THE King – God! How wonderful to understand everything you do can be done in service to God – by reflecting His love to others, serving them and sharing our faith and by doing it all with a worshipful awareness of God!
  • The joy of knowing how to live the best possible life on earth. This is the one I think too many Christians miss all together when teaching their children. All of those rules aren’t there to stifle our “fun” or to somehow “trick” us into having too much “fun” to get into heaven. Following God’s rules protects us from a huge list of earthly consequences. Give your kids lots of concrete examples of the consequences God’s rules protect us from experiencing. (Ex: Your children need to hear from you how much more joyful it is to wake up clear headed and energetic – ready to conquer your day, rather than with a pounding headache, nausea and foggy memories of bad choices from the previous nights’ drunkenness. You also don’t have to experience the consequences of ungodly choices to be able to share them with your kids – I’m sure you have seen enough of them during your lifetime.)
  • The joy of knowing God always has your back. Yes, bad things happen to good people because of the sin in the world. Knowing though that even in the worst and loneliest times, God is by your side listening and loving you – showing you His presence and often working actively in your life – this can bring joy and peace no matter your current circumstances.
  • The joy of seeing God. I’m not talking about strange visions and dreams. I mean the joy of seeing God in His creation. The joy of seeing God working in your life and the lives of others. I heard recently of someone who was able to see God for the first time in their life. It brought me joy just to hear how excited they were to see the moon and see God and see the little things and see God. They were as happy as on the best Christmas day of their life. The great thing is we can teach our children to experience that joy when they look at the stars or see the waves break on the beach every day of their lives.

You have probably heard it said Christians should be the happiest people on earth. Teaching your children to find the joy in being a Christian will change everything for them. It can make a lot of those hard decisions in the teen and early adult years easy – because you have taught them the true, real joy is in serving, worshipping and obeying God. And as everyone knows, a mom is truly happy when her kids are happy – so start sharing the joy of living a godly life with your kids today.

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Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 11:18-19 NIV)