A Picture of God's Faithful Love
One morning, while I was washing up after breakfast, my daughter beckoned me over to her table where she was still eating. Normally I would tell her to finish her food first. But that day, God prompted me to respond immediately. I put down the dishes, walked over to her and asked her gently, "What is it, dear?" My daughter asked me a surprising question: "Mommy, have you ever heard God talking to you?" My response was immediate: "Of course!" Then, as all young children tend to do, she asked another question. "How does God talk to you?" I had to think for a moment before I explained: "Sometimes, God will speak to me in my mind, giving me a clear instruction. That is the reason the apostle Paul often said we should renew our mind and allow God's Word to fill us. Then God will be able to use his Word to speak to us."
My daughter looked very thoughtful, and then she quietly confided to me, "Mommy, I think God has been speaking to me." I was surprised but delighted, and I asked her excitedly, "Really? How did He speak to you?" She answered happily, "Some time ago, I was thinking about my life and what would happen if I die. I heard God said to me in my mind that my life is very special to Him. There was also another time-I was in the car, wondering what my future would be like. Then, the song that was playing in the car just seemed to tell me: Your future is in God's hands." Astonished, I exclaimed, "Wow! God can speak to you through a song, and also through your thoughts! God is really wonderful!" I then asked her, "Do you want to write this experience in your diary to remind you that God can really speak to us?" Her face lit up with a smile and she exclaimed, "Mom, I am so happy that God spoke to me!"
This conversation might seem trivial to others, but from a mother's perspective, it was like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was so thankful that I was not "too busy" to brush off her request that morning. One of the many questions parents ask is "How does God want us to teach our children the concept of faith?" We cannot depend solely on the Sunday School to teach our children about God. We also need to teach them in the "classroom" of life. Regarding my conversation with my daughter, if I had not been there at the time, and if I hadn't been willing to listen and to assure her with words of encouragement, her sensitivity to God might have been eroded or diluted by time; or she might have started to conclude in her mind that it was only her imagination. To tell the truth, if not for that conversation, I would never have guessed that her young mind could formulate such a profound question! After all, she was only ten.
An Impactful Investment
In teaching our children about the faithfulness of God, it is not only important to seize the moment, parents also need to allow the children to learn through the parents' lives. This process requires the parents to consciously create a learning environment for the children, and allow them to grow in the Word of God. The actions and reactions of the parents, especially in facing challenges in their lives will often leave a lasting impression on the children. When problems come, are we bitter and resentful? Do we faithfully pray and depend on God? Our children are always watching us. They see everything we do and remember it. Our actions have a great impact on them. Only when we resolve to plan and to invest our time in the raising and training of our children will we see our efforts to cultivate their character rewarded.
Oftentimes, we can learn many parenting methods from family seminars or parenting magazines, but the problem is that not all parents will decide to invest themselves in the raising of their children. Some parents have already heard or read this message many times, or perhaps some parents already know all this, so much so that they may not attach any importance to it any more. But no parent can afford not to know this. I'm afraid that mere words cannot convey its true importance, but I assure you, it is the most important thing you can ever do for your child. This investment and care for your child, though it may be time consuming and a hassle to you, is vastly important in the eyes of the child. Consider this testimony of a child:
"While I was still a baby, my parents had already determined to become role models to me, particularly in teaching me about the faithfulness of God. My mother would read Bible bedtime stories to me, like David and Goliath, Daniel and the lions, the miracles of Jesus and many others. By the time I was three, my mother was reading the Bible along with me. When I was five, my father started having devotions with me. They taught me how to pray, and talk to God every day. They certainly invested a lot of time and effort in me. I now realize that I already had a solid foundation in the Bible while I was still young.
When I was nine, my father's kidneys started having problems. I could see that there was great stress in my family as my father had to go in and out of hospitals frequently. In 2009, my father's kidneys finally failed, and he had to undergo dialysis three times a week. It was a very tiring and uncomfortable process, and it was only a temporary solution. My mother tried to be strong for us, but I could see, even then, that she also had her own struggles. She prayed continually for a solution, but the only lasting treatment was a kidney transplant. It seemed an impossible alternative, but miracles did happen. An acquaintance from church offered to donate his kidney. Coincidentally, tests showed that the kidney was a perfect match for my father!
But there were still complications, as the Malaysian government would not approve a transplant that was not within the family. The only place we could get the operation approved was in Singapore, but the operation would cost nearly 200k in Malaysian Ringgit. It was too expensive, and we had no suitable accommodation. But God caused another miracle, a brother from our church offered to raise the money for us, and a Christian couple offered us their apartment for the length of our stay. My father did not even know the couple. That year was filled with answered prayers and miracles. Through it all, my parents continued to pray fervently, which in turn encouraged us to do the same. The faith of my parents shone through in the midst of the ordeal. They taught me the true power and importance of faithfully trusting the Lord who is trustworthy."
Through our years of ministry in premarital counseling, we have gained many valuable insights. When we counsel couples who are about to enter into the covenant of marriage, we often ask them about their own family background, and the influence of their parents on them. Often, we see that what they are today is a result of what their parents have done for them. As we listen to their stories, this thought often comes to my mind. "In the future, when our children have grown and are in turn being counseled, how would they describe us? Can they honestly say they have seen the faithfulness of God in us?"
It is true that all children live in their own mental framework and develop their own ideas as they grow. They have their own ways of absorbing and dealing with knowledge and experience. Consequently, there is no guarantee that if we invest into their life a certain amount, we will reap as much; nor can we expect to follow a set of standard rules and methods, and expect a standard product. But one thing is for sure: one day, we will be standing before God, and He will ask us, "Have you been faithful stewards of the children I have entrusted to you? Did you do your best? Have you allowed your children to see My faithfulness in you?"
Dear parents, do you really know what your child really craves for? A child craves for his parents' wholehearted commitment to his future and well-being, devotion and attention to his needs, and a listening ear to his various problems. These qualities and actions paint a beautiful picture in the life of a child. It is a portrait of his parents' faithful love, and through it, he can see the love and faithfulness of God.