Morning Meditation, September 7th, 2015
Deuteronomy 6:6-7, “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
The social media back-to-school pictures are reminding me of my own days of spiffy lunch boxes and snappy new shoes, the backpacks that look like they’re carrying adults in them. My favorite post to date is this picture of my friend Martin. Please love this with me.
I should begin by saying that I am not a mother, but I was a child once. And I have nieces and nephews who I hope will one day look after me, so all this has to count for something. In this post when I speak of “our children”, I mean the ones we’ve birthed, adopted, or who simply hold dear places in our lives.
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 tells us to teach these little ones as we go along the road, all the time. Little of this manner of teaching will be the stuff of chalk and blackboard. It will rather be lived by example in all the places where everyday life meets our faith. Out in those wide-open spaces and in the quiet corners of our houses, where our children will see what we really believe based on how we really act.
1. Our Children Will Only Want What Comes From Our Hearts
Before God told the Israelites to impress His commandments on their children, He told them to make sure those commandments had first landed on their hearts. This is the difference between regulation and relationship—and our children can discern between the two. So much of what I learned about God’s ways was by watching how my Mom and Dad’s faith colored every area of their lives, both public and private. God’s commands weren’t merely a to-do list they kept up with, or a behavior management metric, they were a heartfelt conviction. Even if they didn’t always get it right, I knew their faith was real. When they were lying down or getting up.
2. We Can Only Talk Conversationally About What We Know Experientially
Revel in the nearness and practicality of what it means to share with our children about God’s ways through every movement—sitting, walking, lying down, getting up. It was never hard for my parents to talk about what it meant for them to live according to God’s commands because they’d had history with them. They had stories to tell us about how sometimes they wanted to respond to that critical person in anger, but they chose love instead; how when it seemed advantageous to shade the truth, they decided for honesty. Their faith spoke into their daily experience and those experiences left them with stories they could talk about. Whenever we sat down.
3. Our Instruction Should Be As Natural As Breathing, But As Pointed As An Arrow
The word “impress” in the original language—as in “impress upon their hearts”—means to pierce or sharpen a sword. I get the idea that the way I pass down God’s instructions to the children in my life should be able to cut through all the fuzz and blur of ambiguity and deception. (Hebrews 4:12 says God’s Word is sharper than a double edged sword, able to divide between soul and spirit). A child can tell if I’m simply repeating religious rhetoric or if I’m speaking meaningful wisdom that transcends their circumstances. My Mom used to pray with my brother when she drove him to elementary school—teaching along the way—and he can still tell you the specific answered prayers that came to pass during those years. Those were penetrating experiences for him where God’s Word pierced into his reality.
As another school year begins, may we teach our children from the heart, teach from experience, and impress God’s truth on their souls—all along the way. Because His commands are meant for every road we’ll ever walk on.