|photo courtesy of photostock at freedigitalphotos.net|
We have certain catch-phrases around the Harrelson house. Most of them are for my priceless five year old daughter Deborah, “Always have a smile on your face and a smile in your heart!” and “We need to be a try girl and not a cry girl!” Sure, the boys have theirs, “Teamwork makes the DREAM WORK!” That’s probably the young guy’s favorite one. Catch-phrases have been a great way for our family to learn life lessons at a young age. I have heard my whole life that repetition is the beginning of all learning, and repetitive catch-phrases (or repetitive moments) have been a wonderful tool for our home.
As Christians, though, I believe there is a far better learning method for life’s lessons. I believe that the Bible just doesn’t tell us TO train our children, but includes principles that teach us HOW to train as well.
You have a child, you look into their little blue, brown, or (insert color here) eyes and you have such high hopes! Such great dreams! Oh the plans, vacations, birthday parties, and moments to share. But then, we as parents get caught in the process of daily life and start wanting our children to learn faster. At first we were joyous when our child rolled over, learned to crawl, and took that first step.
We enjoyed the moments.
Then, relationship familiarity begins to rear its ugly head. We slowly begin to forget to take a moment and just enjoy being a family. We get ahead of ourselves, and the next thing you know we have bought into our American culture and are trying to make sure our precious little one is meeting deadlines. Have they been potty trained by three? If not, then OH MY!! What’s wrong with my child? What’s wrong with me? One day you wake up and that little bundle of joy who has been learning to talk learns a new dreaded word… NO! What will the other parents say when they see or hear this!!?!? All of a sudden it begins to frustrate us that it takes “forever” for that once treasure of a child to unbuckle their seatbelt so we can “just get in the department store and get out and get home.”
What happened to the moments? What happened to the joy?
I submit to you that by God’s grace our family has tried to enjoy the moments. Although we haven’t always been successful, we have tried to apply a principle found in Isaiah 28:10 – “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:” God has been so good to us to give us great moments – of learning, laughing, and love. These moments have shown to be the tried and true method for our children to remember life lessons and Bible principles.
Here’s a great example of how God has blessed us recently:
One morning we are loading up the car to go to church and the children were having a “friendly debate” about who gets to get in the car first. As I am watching this unfold the Lord brought back to my memory Matthew 20:16 – “So the last shall be first, and the first last.” As our three youngest children were climbing into the third row of our SUV I told them this verse. At first they looked perplexed, but I explained the verse this way – When the first person that gets into the third row climbs in they climb in to the seat farthest away from the door, when we empty the vehicle the person that entered the vehicle first is the person that exits the vehicle last. Eureka! The last shall be first and the first last! Their eyes lit up like light bulbs, they got it! It was a sweet moment, a God moment, that for the past few months has been a regular conversation between the Harrelson tribe as they get in the car. What they learned about not always having to be first they learned by God’s grace in the moment He gave us.
I had a pastor turn me on to the phrase “God moment” a long time ago. This is the learning method I mentioned previously. Jacob’s life was forever changed when he had a “God moment” struggling with the Angel of the Lord. What about Jonah’s lesson of the gourd? Jonah had a “God moment” and learned a great lesson about love and compassion. I wonder what it was like for the Centurion at the Cross when Jesus died. I wonder if he ever forgot the “God moment” he witnessed. So powerful was the impact of the moment that his own words were “Truly this man was the Son of God.” Something unexplainably supernatural happens in a Christian’s life when a “God moment” occurs. Something remarkable. These are the moments that you and I have learned unforgettable life lessons.
Now turn your thinking to us as parents. What makes us successful? Is it that we are prepared for every moment? Is it that we have the answer to every circumstance that arises? Or is it that the power of God freely flows through us because we have made ourselves useful to God by submitting to Him?
I am convinced there is nothing good in me apart from the Christ of God (Colossians 1:27). However, I am also convinced that the biggest detriment to our homes is disengaged fathers. The Bible is clear that the presence and leadership of the father as he submits himself to God is pivotal to a successful home. We need more humble men to lead their homes. James 4:8 says “Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you.” God moments can only come when we have given God liberty to use us as a willing vessel by drawing near to him. The truth is, this is simply our reasonable service (Romans 12:1).
Always remember, the moments might just be a little here and a little there, but before you know it the moments turn into mountains, mountains of mercy, grace, and love for your spouse and children. I know it has for mine! The question I ask myself daily is – “Are my moments filled with mercy, grace, and love? Or are they filled with anger, frustration, and guilt?” I want to look back on the moments in my mind with joy and I want my children to do the same. What about you?