Mary stressed fact that God has a plan for our lives, even our children's lives, and that He formed that plan well before we were born or our children were born. Even those children who may or may not be in our futures, they already have a plan from God. She also pointed out that we will most certainly not choose to follow the path God has laid out for us. As she talked about this point, I imagined a chart in my mind. You know, the line graph with two lines going up and down as it progresses across the chart. Picture the red line in the example below to be God's plan for your life. Then picture the blue line to be where you are living your life. Now, don't we all hope that those two lines will eventually become one? So how are we going to do that, first for ourselves, and also how are we going to teach our children to do that?
We have to seek God's will for our life, for how He created us. We have to teach our children to seek God's will for their life and for how He created them. The only way to do this is to ask Him. We have to ask Him to reveal His will to us and for us to obey. Whoa. That's going to take some prayer, some listening and some self-denial. So many times the reason we are off-the-chart, so to speak, is our inability to deny ourselves what we want instead of what we need. Are we doing what God wants us to do with how He made us?
For if we pray that "great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds" (Jer. 32:19) we can begin to look at ourselves the way that God looks at us. We tend to look at ourselves from the underside of the tapestry rather than looking at the finished picture. The backside of any needlework looks like a big ol' mess, but when it is done, and we look at it from the completed side, it makes so much more sense and is so much more beautiful. How can we see the beautiful picture of ourselves that God sees? Give that mess to God. Give it all to Him. Only He can make the ugly, knotted past of our lives into something beautiful. Only He can guide us to that red line on our chart that we call our life. Once we can do these things for ourselves, we can help our children do the same thing.
Realizing that we were "born into a sinful nature"(Psalm 51:5) helps us as parents understand that, yes, so were our children. But for our downfall, we must celebrate the good in our children. We must raise our children with a "spirit-led" heart. Mary brought that point straight to my heart when I asked her how old our children should be when we talk to them about salvation. I really had/have some hang-ups about using the words "sin" and "died on the cross" with my three-year-old. They just seemed so harsh. I didn't grow up in a Christian home, so hearing these words at such a young age I found to be a little strong, too much to handle, opening doors I would rather remain closed. The subject of death, especially. Don't want to touch that one until I have to discuss it.
A couple of things I learned today from Mary and other women in our group:
- You must let the Holy Spirit lead you when discussing matters of faith with your children.
- You must create in your home an atmosphere for learning about faith, God and salvation.
- You can focus on the positive aspects of a relationship with God (ie, God made you. God loves you. God will take care of you.) to start educating your child about Him.
- You must spend time WITH your child to know her. Then you will have a better idea of how to approach issues of faith and questions about God.
- You don't have to know everything and have a "step-by-step" track set with your child.
- You can set the tone in your household by observing daily quiet times, reading your bible, singing praise music and praying with your child.
- You don't have to be THE ONE who brings your child to Christ. You do need to lay the groundwork for a relationship with Him.
- You can say "Jesus gave His life for our sins" instead of "died for our sins".
Love the last one. Whew. Lots of stuff today. We also talked about how satan keeps us busy in order to keep us from ministering to others and our children. Satan keeps us busy to keep us from getting to know our children, which will ultimately be a large factor in how we handle a relationship with our children. If we don't know them, how will we know how to pray for, care for, listen to, and love them? I think you know how satan keeps you busy. I could make a big list like we did today, but you already know what is stealing time away from you and your children.
So not to end on such a yucky note, I'll leave you with our funny moment from today:
As A.E. and I prayed tonight, she thanked God for Play-Doh and told Him that "we don't eat it!" Today was our first venture into the Play-Doh world and she certainly got the rules down quick!