Our family loves the zoo. The African safari. The aquarium. Elephants. Monkeys. Spiders, reptiles, and unusual birds. It is one thing to read about these animals from distant lands and exotic places, but quite another to get up close and personal.
What is it that is so fascinating about seeing a tiger in real life? Why do we stand in awe upon our first glance at the hugeness of a hippo, giraffe or elephant when really they are nothing new to us?
Coming close after only learning from afar changes our perspective dramatically. Our storybook tales have put on flesh and finally they are real.
There is a word that is used to describe God coming to us, coming close to us. It is word that means to “put on flesh.” It is the word “incarnation”. As Christians, we believe the God of heaven – the God of eternity – came to us in and through Jesus. God “put on flesh”. He got close to us -wild and mysterious for sure, but in Jesus tangible and touchable.
His disciples (followers) walked with him, talked with him, touched him, ate with him, and lived in close proximity with him. In Jesus, people encountered and experienced God.
So how do we help our children get close to God? How do we help “put flesh on” so that our kids don’t just know about God, but really know him?
In America there is no shortage of fabulous children’s ministries and youth groups for our children to “experience God” and learn about Him. For that I am profoundly thankful. However, in our rush to get them involved at church I fear we are missing out on the most influential person in their journey of faith: us.
Making God real to our children begins with us as parents. Our children are watching and listening. One of the most powerful life-changing ways for our children to see God as real and alive is to see mom and dad follow Him wholeheartedly. Putting on “the flesh of God” as we live out the “Word of God”.
So what does that look like in real, everyday life? How can we be the mom or dad who makes God real to our children? Here are a few ways…
- God is our number one priority.
Our children know what is most important to us. How do we spend our time? What is the most exciting to us…a football game or how God is working in our life?
- We study the Bible and spend time with God.
This seems simple, but the reality is there are many times studying God’s word is put on the back burner of our busy lives. It begins with us taking time each day to read the Bible and letting that habit be noticed by our children. They are watching.
- We teach our children the Bible.
It also is important for us to read the Bible with our children. For our younger children, we simply read a few pages a day of a resource such as Jesus Calling for Little Ones or The Jesus Calling Bible Storybook. Both of these lay out the story of God in a simple and beautiful way. As they get older, we use more in-depth devotionals and studies.
- Our relationship with God dictates how we live.
When we face decisions in our life we talk about honoring God and following His will and call. We are open with our struggles and how God is working in our life through the trials and the triumphs.
- We reach out to others with the genuine love of Christ.
When our children see us serving and helping others, it speaks volumes. We also take opportunities to let them know who is hurting and who needs prayer so they can join us. Praying for others is a powerful example of how our faith is real to us.
Before we can expect our children to see God as real, we must live out a faith that is real. This doesn’t mean that we live a perfect life. It means that our life is authentic, through the ups and the downs our children see a mom and dad who cling to God more than anything else. As we live out an active and vibrant faith, we help the invisible God become visible.
Ruth Schwenk, TheBetterMom.com