These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. –Deuteronomy 6: 6- 7
Our family suffers from allergies. The feelings of itchy ears, scratchy throats, sticky eyes, and unending sneezing are all too familiar. Therefore, when our daughters began asking for a pet, my immediate answer was “no way!” Each trip to the mall induced unending pleas to just “visit” the pet store. This often resulted in our family’s playing with and petting a mischievous puppy that would jump on us, lick the girls faces, and leave large deposits of hair on our clothes. Within minutes, I would begin sneezing violently and order our family out of the allergy torture chamber! In the end, we compromised on the pet issue and became the proud owners of two hermit crabs.
A short time later, the girls each received a hamster. To our surprise, none of us were affected by their fur, and the girls absolutely fell in love with “Brownie” and “Chippy.” Sadly, Chippy died. Looking into the big eyes of our youngest daughter, I gently told her about Chippy. After the news sunk in, tears welled up in her eyes. “My eyes are watery,” she said, “and my nose is runny.” Because she didn’t understand the emotions she was experiencing, I explained to her how God made us to love, and when we get sad we cry, and our eyes tear and our nose runs. The simple explanation was enough for the moment.
After school, neighborhood friends gathered and we held a funeral for Chippy, complete with song, poem, prayer, and a stick cross. Afterward, we hugged each other and then our daughter asked, “Daddy, when you die, will you pick up Chippy on your way to heaven?” A little surprised by the question but wisely realizing this was no time for a theological treatise on the resurrection of the dead, he simply replied, “Sure, honey.”
Teachable moments. They are everywhere and happen every day. The above Scripture implores us to teach our children daily the faith that we live and practice. Opportunities to live out our faith will present themselves if we will take the time to seize them. And, just like the death of a family pet led us into a deeper conversation about death, resurrection and eternal life, there will be opportunities for you to share with the children in your life.
1. Do the children in your life feel free to ask questions of faith? Are you ready to respond when they do?
2. Watch for teachable moments and seize them!
1 Peter 3:15; Proverbs 22:6