Monday, September 25, 2006

Has Your Son Asked Yet? Part 1

“And those twelve stones, which they took out of Jordan, did Joshua pitch in Gilgal. And he spake unto the children of Israel, saying, When your children shall ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean these stones? Then ye shall let your children know, saying, Israel came over this Jordan on dry land…that all te people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God forever.” Joshua 4:20-24

Since we had been driving most of the day, we were all very tired. Most of us were quietly at a missions apartment, enjoying various evening activities. Though I was very busy getting the little ones bathed and ready for bed, I was definitely enjoying not being in the van. It was during this very busy and tired time that one of my sons asked a question I was totally unprepared for: “Why do we do this such-and-such a way? When I was little, you would just tell me that it was bad, but I’m older now, and I would like to know why we do it this way.” Needless to say, I stopped right in my tracks and began to try to explain why we have that particular standard. I soon realized two things: that the explanation would require much more time than I had immediately available, and that my explanation needed to be thought through completely before I could verbalize my beliefs.

You see, standards are like the stones that the children of Israel raised up: they are the outward expression of an important lesson God has taught us. It is an expression of our love for Christ (“if you love me, keep my commandments”) and a practical application of your beliefs (for example, since it is true that God created men and women to be different, then we should dress differently, etc.). Standards are visible “pillars” in our lives that make us different from those who do not know and love the Lord.

But just like the pillar of stone in Israel, one day when our children are old enough, they will wonder why we do things differently. They will one day ask, “why do we do this this way?”

There are two parts to this scenario.

One part shows me that if the parents had been doing their job all along, the son would have no reason to ask – they would already know the answer. In my case, that was part of what shocked me – I thought I had been explaining it to him, but apparently what I have been telling him was just the simple answer I would give a 5 year old. I’ve been saying things like, “we don’t do that, that’s not good. That’s not the way the Lord would have us do it.”

The second part is that your son WILL ask if they don’t already know. They will be curious. They will notice the world around them and wonder why your family does things differently than other families. They may even get to the point where they do not even ask for information, but sometimes as a challenge, “But WHY??

Knowing that they will ask, or at least will be curious even though they may not even verbalize that curiosity, we as parents need to be prepared to answer any question they may have. Many of us have been children of God for awhile, and we sometimes lose touch with the “why” of what we do. We would be wise to regularly refresh ourselves of the way the Lord has led us. As we tell our children step-by-step how we came to the conclusions we came to many years ago, may the Lord help our children to have understanding hearts in these matters.

Believe me, I am doing some heavy-duty remembering and thinking, as well as praying and searching the Scriptures. And maybe it’ll be the topic of a future entry. But in the meantime, I need to find a chunk of time in my schedule to spend some quality time with my son! J

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