The other day at dinner, our family was spending some time talking about Lent. We had created a Journey Jar in which we placed several objects and we used to them to journey with Christ to the cross. At this point in our journey we had pulled out a small battery-operated candle and we were talking about Jesus revealing himself as the light of the world. Referencing Matthew 16:16 where Peter answers Jesus’ question of “Who do you say that I am?” with “You are the Messiah, the Son of God,” the kids and I discussed why it was after this that Jesus turned towards Jerusalem and began to make his final journey to the cross.
In my mind the answer was clear. Jesus wanted to make sure the disciples knew who He was before all the terrible things that would happen occurred so that they would not lose faith. As the wise adult I am, I posed the question and waited for my answer.
But my daughter Hannah looked at me and said, “Because he was scared.”
“Peter was scared?” I inquired.
“No, Jesus was scared,” she replied, “He was getting ready to go and die and He needed to hear from Peter who He was and why He was here so He would have the courage to go to Jerusalem and face death. He needed Peter to remind him that He was the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Never in a million years would it have occurred to me that Jesus, my Lord and Savior, was scared.
But Hannah, in her tender understanding that Jesus was both fully human and fully God, saw a man who was afraid of the task ahead but willing to give it all because He loved us so much. She saw sacrificial love and unmitigated grace. Needless to say, our devotional did more for me that night than for the kids. I walked away humbled by God’s unending love and blessed to have seen with the faith of a child.
In that moment, I had another choice.
I could have said, “See, I can’t do this! I cannot teach my children at home. I don’t know enough. I am not smart enough. I messed up.” So many parents are afraid to approach the things of God at home because of similar thoughts that infiltrate their mind. They wonder, “How can I bring God up with my kids? How can I teach them the Bible? I haven’t studied this. I’m not good with words. It’s just not my gift.”
But the reality is, when you make yourself available to the God of the universe to be used to share Christ with your children, you become part of a larger story.
In those moments where two or three are gather in His Name, He promises to be with us. Truth is, the conversation may go in a direction you could never have expected, and that’s okay. You might even have to say, “Hmm, I don’t know. I’ll have to look that up and get back to you” and that’s okay. You might even be reduced to tears as you consider some profound thing your eleven-year-old has shared about the depth of God’s love for you, and that’s okay.
Because it’s not the “right” words that brings Christ to life. It’s not saying it right or doing it right or even reading the Bible right. None of that really matters all that much. What matters is that you are willing to open the door with your children to talk about the most important thing in their lives and that you are available to walk the road of faith with them and for them even when it makes you feel uncomfortable. That is enough.
I recently sent an encouraging text out to the parents of my church families who were snowed in once again this winter. In it I just shared that even though the days are long, the years are short and to take some time that day to enjoy a precious moment or two with their kids. One dad jokingly wrote back, “Hey it’s Friday. That’s what Wednesday nights are for.” To which I responded, “Every day, friend. Every. Single. Day.”
In the everyday, the normal routine of daily life, our invitation to Christ to join us around the dinner table, during bedtime stories and prayers, as we travel down the road and when we start each new day opens the door, not only for us to share with our kids, but for them to share with us. And there is no greater ongoing conversation to be had.
Don’t be discouraged if you feel inadequate. If my daughter is right in her assessment of the Scripture above, even Jesus did at times. But like Christ, “set your face like flint” and press on in the calling God has given you to disciple your children and lead them in the faith. He will not leave you or forsake you, and He may even speak of His unending love to you through the ones you lead.
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.