The essential value in my life is my personal relationship with God. Everything I do flows out of that relationship. I would describe my relationship with God as vibrant, loving, energizing, fulfilling, satisfying, helpful, instructive, necessary, and free. Most of those qualities have developed over time as I have spent time with God. But where did it all start? And what role did my parents play in handing the baton of faith off to me?
Through a beautiful process I adopted the faith of my parents without feeling obligated, coursed, or pushed. I don’t even associate knowing God with anything my parents asked of me. Instead they provided the environment for my commitment to God's Word and Jesus Christ.
I can look back to when I was 8 or 9 years old and consider how my parents passed on their faith. There were three distinct things that stand out:
- They taught me the Bible from an early age
- They communicated to me their own experiences of how they walked with God
- They brought me along with them in their ventures of faith
When I think of my parents passing on their faith I remember three specific occasions.
First, teaching me the Bible from an early age... When I was preschool age my Dad would sit in the bathroom and read me the Bible while I took a bath. Somehow my mind captured these Bible stories and I grasped a basic Bible outline from a very young age.
The second memory that I have occurred ten years later. It is of my Mom tearing up at the reading of the crucifixion story. It was near Easter time and my Mom was reading through the book of Matthew with us on a daily basis. Her emotion over the pain that Jesus suffered on the cross effected my perspective of the events of the Bible. I saw them as real.
The third memory that I have is of my Dad listening to me talk about the things that God was teaching me while I was in Africa. His only response was to encourage me and show enthusiasm for my spiritual ideas.
Here's how I'm applying this now.
When parents recognizes the authority and rule of God in the midst of home life and such a reality is communicated on a daily basis there is a foundation established that is wider then the foot prints of the parents. It is the difference between standing on cinder block for a foundation and mountain. When a child looks to a parent who’s highest appeal to authority is rooted in themselves there is a greatness that only last until the child reaches an old enough age to find out that there parents are not perfect. A parent who has no greater authority to appeal to then themselves will have a fading greatness in the eyes of their children. It is a powerful thing to recognize and live according to the reality of God.
It leads to a sense of purpose. It leads to a sense of proportion. It leads to a sense of fulfillment. It leads to a sense of worth. It leads to a sense of peace. It leads to a sense of conviction.
In fact the thought of God gives perspective on all other thoughts. A home based on the reality of an eternal, all knowing, all powerful God, will establish a child with a foundation that cannot be supplemented by any other foundation.
The Christian faith leads naturally into a set of values. Christianity has its own economy. Jesus referred to it when he spoke of the Kingdom of God. Any functioning kingdom has an established economy that is based off of a value system. It could be naively stated that the United States economy is based on the value of gold. There is value and worth associated with that precious metal. The same is true of God’s spiritual kingdom. Some things are valued highly other things are of little value. God is the greatest value. He is to be esteemed most worthy and considered the highest value. But there is also a high value placed on people.
A family that is operating according to the value system of heaven will no doubt leave a priceless impression on the children raised in that home.
Ravi Zacharias pointed out recently that home is the place where you are known for who you are and you are accepted. It is a very raw and real environment. The good and the bad are visible in the home.
When a parent sits and reads the Bible with their child they are giving them a priceless possession: the knowledge of God. When they share with their kids about how God is speaking to them they are modeling what it means to have a relationship with God. When a parent brings their child along with them in their ventures of faith, that parent is allowing them to experience God’s work first hand.