Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9
I am in the midst of the season of mothering. God entrusted me with two clever preschoolers who absorb everything, both the good and the bad (as exhibited by my oldest daughter’s usage of a choice word that I recently uttered in a moment of frustration – oops). Like most parents, I want to raise my children so that they will be happy and healthy, so that they will function well in the world and be productive adults, and most importantly, so that they have a strong spiritual and moral foundation.
Often in my studies of godly parenting, I am led to the above verses in Deuteronomy, that charge me with the responsibility of keeping the greatest commandment on my own heart at all times, and also instilling it in the hearts of my children.
The word “diligently” popped out to me today. The word diligently means to ‘quietly and steadily continuing a task despite any difficulties’ and is ‘characterized by care and perseverance in carrying out tasks’. I have been given the responsibility to be a disciplined parent, to be intentional, deliberate, and fully-conscious in raising my girls. My assignment is to develop my children’s behavior and their character through instruction and repetition. My task is to point them toward God all throughout the day, every day.
But, it is not just enough to teach them the words, the deeds, the customs. It is not enough to teach them to memorize the Bible by rote. It’s not enough to simply lead them in a sinner’s prayer. Of course, memorization, prayer, and study have value, but if connection is not personally experienced, then it becomes a habitual routine, where, more often than not, there is no love and no passion. When God’s love isn’t truly known or reciprocated those rituals lead to the legalist thinking and behavior that made the chief priests, the scribes, the elders and others want to trap, arrest, and eventually kill Jesus (Mark 12:1-27).
It is essential that my children have daily opportunities to meet God so that they come to understand who He was, is, and is to come. Over and over, they need to hear testimonies of His faithfulness; they need to taste and see that He is good. They must grasp relationship with Christ and desire a bond with Him. His love needs to cut through to their cores.
My goal is to teach my children not only to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and might, but to teach them to hear his voice, follow his will, and recognize his face. I can do that by talking to them, by maintaining a good rapport with my children, and by allowing them to see my relationship with Christ up close.
Yesappa, Thank You for choosing me, for choosing my children, and their children. Thank You for loving us, blessing us, and multiplying us. Help me follow Your commands, staying straight on Your path and not going to the right or the left. Help me show my children who You are. Reveal Your steadfast love to us. Help us love You with all our hearts, our souls, and our minds always. In Jesus’ name. Amen (Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 7:9-12).
Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan)
Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.