When talking with young adults who have rejected God at some point, there are two common themes. The first is usually that they did not see God making a positive difference in the lives of their parents. The other is that they cannot see God working in the world today, attributing everything that happens to luck or fate.
There is a fun family devotional you can do with your kids to help them begin to understand how God works in the world today. Read or tell your children two stories in the life of the prophet Elijah. The first is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal found in I Kings 18:16-45. The second is the story of God appearing to Elijah found in I Kings 19:9-18.
Talk about the amazing “big” way in which God showed himself in the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. Then discuss the “small”, gentle way God appeared to Elijah in the second story. Explain that sometimes people only see God when He does “big”, miraculous things. Tell them how God is sometimes even more amazing in the “small”, quiet things He does for us.
When adults think of God’s love for us, we immediately think about Jesus dying on the cross for our sins. For young children though, those concepts are very abstract. It’s important they hear them even though they can’t quite understand it fully. When you want young children to understand God’s love for them however, you want to also use some very concrete things. Things they can see, touch, smell.
One of the best ways to explain to a young child about God’s love is to help them experience the great variety in God’s creation. Tell them the story of creation found in the first part of Genesis. Explain God could have created anything he wanted to create. He could have decided one kind of fish or tree or flower was enough for us.
Want to be inspired? Walk the 3-Day Breast Cancer Walk. As I walked 60 miles over three days, I met women who had every right to think of themselves as victims. They had survived a horrible disease that had ravaged their bodies. Yet, these were some of the most energized, positive people I had ever met. They refused to think of themselves as victims.
No matter what may happen to your children, the best gift you can give them is to teach them how to avoid thinking of themselves as victims. Victims get stuck. They don’t move forward. They don’t accomplish anything, because they are fixated on their pain. They surely, can’t reach their godly potential or accomplish the plans God has for their lives. They can’t continue to mature spiritually, because growth requires looking forward. Victims are stuck in the past when the hurt occurred.
In our society, people gain power and riches when they convince others they are victims. Then they can swoop in and “save the day” – often by actually victimizing the very people they are claiming to help. It used to be tough to convince people they were victims. Now we have a society full of them.
As your children enter their teen years, you may begin to feel a sense of urgency in your parenting. You only have a few years remaining when you will see your child daily and have hours a day to help build their spiritual foundation. By your child’s senior year of high school, even the most proactive Christian parent can feel a sense of panic. What have you forgotten to teach? What more do you need to say?
There is a way though to create a special gift that will be a subtle (or not so subtle) reminder for your child of the spiritual truths that were so important to you – the ones you pray are also a part of who they are and who they will become. The great thing is you can put your own special touches on it that will also reflect your love for your child and the value you place on your relationship.
If you have been on Pinterest or have a creative hobby, you have probably heard of inspiration boards. They are large pieces of poster board (or they can be virtual) and contain words and photos (or magazine clippings) that inspire the person working on a particular project. They probably started with planning weddings or decorating rooms, but have expanded way beyond that today. In fact, in New York City, there is a museum that positions itself as an inspiration board of sorts.
Your kids might appreciate the inspiration one of those boards can give them. It also makes a great project for a rainy day or when your kids are “bored” by their current life. For Christian kids, I would add a twist to the boards though. Often they end up just being a wish list of things someone wants to buy. It’s probably not a great idea to promote this kind of materialistic attitude in your kids.
There are however some inspiration boards your kids (and teens) can create that could also help them on their faith journey. Here are a few ideas to get them started.