Tuesday, September 18, 2001
Our daughter is all grown up, and married, and even a mom. But the other day she told me about the Bible verse she learned as a little girl and never forgot - "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31). Then she told me why she never forgot it. One day when she was pretty young I had brought her to my office. And at lunchtime, we walked downtown to get something to eat. And, as she remembers very vividly, we passed this storefront that must have been a fortune teller's place. There was a picture of a big human palm in the window, signifying that the occupant did palm reading. Our daughter tells me that I explained to her what that all meant - and that night she got to thinking about it. And really she was too scared to go to sleep. At which point she says I knelt next to her bed and I gave her a word for today from the Word of God - "If God be for us, who can be against us?" She went to sleep repeating those words - she never forgot them - and she hung onto them many times in the years to come.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Living Proof."
She said to me, "You know why that Bible verse became part of me? Because it was linked to a real experience." There's nothing new about that. That's how God's been telling parents to make God real to their children for 3,000 years. Our word for today from the Word of God, Deuteronomy 6:5-7. This is instructions for parents who are trying to raise children in a morally confusing, increasingly pagan culture. That was the situation in the time this statement was written - it's the situation today. And God's parenting strategy? Oh, it's still the same, too.
Here's what it says, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." Notice, God says that you should be showing your children a love-relationship with Him, not just a religion. He goes on, "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children." OK, impress your son or daughter with them - don't just tell them about it. How do you do that? Here's what it says, "Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
God says show them your Lord and His ways, not just in formal spiritual settings, but in the casual classroom of everyday life. This is spontaneous stuff, not pre-planned. It's teaching that looks for and prays for teachable moments to arise in a child's life - and then gently introduces God's statement into that situation. When a verse is a response to a real-life experience - when your child can use it to handle that experience, that verse is part of them! They have just experienced living proof that God and His Word are the real deal.
It's a basic principle of learning that we learn what we live. And that we don't really learn something until we're in a situation where we really need it. Just before the Gulf War, I heard a soldier admit that most of them had paid little attention when chemical warfare was talked about in basic training - but that now when it was covered, they were taking notes and listening intently. Why? Because suddenly they were in a situation where they would need that information.
So God advises parents to communicate His truth in real-life situations - sitting at home, walking or driving somewhere together, when you're getting up, when you're wrapping up the day. It's those spontaneous lessons - responses to things that happen in the course of a day - that are not ever forgotten.
So look for, pray for those wonderful, teachable moments in the life of your child. And let the experiences of your child's life be the blackboard on which you write the powerful words of God.