This article was originally published by Mennonite World Review

Kids and God

Each day my kids see me reading my Bible and praying. They know that I attend Bible study and understand the value that attending church holds in our family. However, there are many things about God that I don’t share with them.

Often, when they ask me questions about my blog, why I have the alarm set on my phone or about a specific event — like when I spoke earlier this year in Southern California — I avoid telling them. What I should say is, “God asked me to do it,” or “It’s reminding me to pray” or “The Holy Spirit prompted me to go.” But, I don’t.

Why? Maybe it’s because I’m worried that they may not understand, it may be too much for their young minds to comprehend. Maybe it’s because I don’t fully understand it myself and I am afraid I won’t be able to answer their questions. They don’t need to know everything, do they?

Yes, they do. Especially, about God.

Last week, my 11-year-old asked me to tell her about the book I was reading. It was, 7, by Jen Hatmaker. A book focused on the spiritual discipline of fasting. I thought about glossing over the topic, but remembered that she and I had similar discussions on this topic during Lent and how my daughter had chosen to give up soda — which, incidentally, she really only drinks one to two times a week, if we go out and eat at a restaurant. So, with Lent as a frame of reference, I described the book to her.

I shared with her about how the author was a woman who, among other things, for 30 days, only wore seven items of clothing. She was shocked. “You mean, seven outfits?” she said. Nope, seven items of clothing, which included two pairs of shoes.

It was a short conversation, but I could tell it made an impression. We had experienced a teachable God moment. And, instead of shying away from the truth, I attempted to explain it in a way she could understand. As a result, I hope it showed her that not only is it OK to do something for God, it’s OK to do something a little crazy for him too.

Several weeks after our conversation, I read a verse Psalm in that convicted me.

We will not hide these truths from our children. We will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord. About his power and mighty wonders. — Psalm 78:4

Through this verse God was, once again, revealing to me the importance of sharing him with my children. It helped me realize that I am a huge part of the what, when and how of my kids’ encounters with Christ. This is one of my most important responsibilities as their mom, who is also a follower of Jesus.

Sharing God with my son, O, is particularly difficult. Because of his concrete thinking, a term like, “ask Jesus to live in your heart” doesn’t make sense to him. This may be a struggle for many 6 year olds, but it is especially challenging for my 6 year old who mostly lives in a black and white world — one where if you got a gift on Christmas Eve, you would never say you got it for Christmas because that would be wrong.

Recently, I was having a conversation with a friend, another mother who has a son similar to O. She helped me understand how she had explained the term “born again” to her son. While the conversation she had with her son on this topic was helpful for future conversations I may have with O, it’s what she said to me after that made more of an impact. She said,

I also have decided to surrender to the fact that God made [my son] and knows the best way to connect with him. I recently realized, he’s relentlessly pursuing relationship with [my son] (with all of us really) but I have no doubt that [my son] will encounter Jesus in ways that only God could orchestrate. I have just decided to trust in this.

My role is not to simply tell my children what I know about God. It is to share the truth of His power and mighty wonders. I want my children to see God. Not just on the pages of scripture or during a Sunday school lesson. I want them to see him in everything. Because He is there.

I don’t share God with my kids often enough. If I want them to truly experience Him, that has to change.

Sybil Kolbert lives in Fresno, Calif., where she attends Bethany Mennonite Brethren Church. She blogs at Peace it all Together, where she shares her journey of how God continues to take her insecurities and turn them upside down — all while she is working part time, sustaining a marriage and raising three children.

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