There is one question in parenting that has plagued me more than any other. Beyond the basics of *trying to* make sure that my kids are respectful, considerate, well-fed and rested, this one topic is something that has rolled around in my mind since our oldest was in my womb: how do I raise children who have an authentic relationship with God? How do I encourage them towards faith-filled boldness and a humble, undivided heart?
Nothing in parenting is sure. No formula can guarantee our children’s salvation and faithfulness. There are plenty of amazing Christian families with prodigal children; God has all of us in process. But I’m burdened by the sheer number of kids raised in the church that have memorized all the right scriptures and know all the right answers, yet their adult lives are largely unchanged. Some have left the church altogether while others are just showing up and checking the box off of their list of “ought to’s”.
This burden has me asking God: how do we raise a strong generation of men and women that are wholeheartedly committed to You? A generation that trades a churchy mask for a Holy Spirit boldness and love that will change the world. A generation that doesn’t see scripture memory and prayer as a measure of godliness, but as a tool for waging a successful war against the enemy for people’s souls, for our nation’s repentance and salvation.
Dozens of good thoughts, of right thoughts, can answer these questions. But I want to give you one that has continuously come to my attention during my priority times this month in the books of Genesis and Exodus. Even my pastor mentioned it in passing during the sermon Sunday when he said this: “God gives us symbols to remind us of the most meaningful things He has done in our lives.” Not only does God remind us, but He calls us to remind our children using these same symbols.
God told Moses to write about the defeat of the Amalekites on a scroll so that Joshua would remember. He told Aaron to save manna in a jar as a sign for generations to come so that they would remember God’s provision. He commanded the Israelites to consecrate every firstborn so the people would remember God’s deliverance. In the New Testament, He tells us to be baptized and take communion regularly, all to remember Christ’s sacrifice and our new life in him. The examples could go on and on.
God repeatedly uses concrete symbols to remind us of who He is and what He’s done. God understands better than we do our tendency to forget, and this forgetfulness is a spiritual cancer that leads us to either obey out of obligation (legalism) or turn to other things for satisfaction (idolatry). One of His solutions for our memory problem is something tangible that represents His power and faithfulness.
So here’s the practical step I’ve taken: I bought aquarium rocks at PetSmart and paint pens at Hobby Lobby. On the rocks I’ve recorded every significant move of God in our lives that I can remember. They all have key words and/or verses that help me remember prayers answered, lives changed, circumstances redeemed, and/or God’s character revealed. I’ve put the rocks in a bowl on one of our living room tables. In the future when my kids ask me what they are, I can use each rock to tell specific, personal testimonies about a God that is still alive and active today.
Bottom line: There is a gaping divide between the God of the Bible and what most modern-day American churches are actually experiencing. I believe this is the cause of the church’s rapid decline. My hope and prayer is that when the next generation sees personally the mighty hand of God as Deliverer, Redeemer, Healer, Comforter, Bondage-Breaker, and Provider, an unstoppable generation will rise up!