A few weeks ago my friend posted a picture of a young girl holding a glitter-smeared envelope. His caption read, “My daughter wrote a letter to Jesus and wants to mail it to Him. She said it’s about how much she loves Him. I think I’ll do the same....”
My heart melted, of course. Her genuine expression reminded me how far I’m removed from the reckless hope of childhood.
It’s wonderful to see the joy kids bring to a family and it’s even more exciting when I witness the impact my friends have on the faith of their children.
This past Sunday a young couple dedicated their children at church. The pastor asked if they promised to teach their kids about Jesus. They smiled and said yes. He then asked the congregation the same question. Will we take every opportunity to teach these children about Jesus?
The pastor began his sermon after the dedication and talked about Genesis 2:9.
“The Lord made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
There were two trees—a tree of life, and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I’ve heard the story a million times, but this time I understood it in relation to parenting.
The pastor spoke symbolically about the trees, comparing the tree of life to the things of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). He likened the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to religion and law.
Here’s what I took away from Genesis 2:9 this time: While cultivating adherence to religion and law is important, what sustains me is the fruit from the tree of life. There is no life in religion.
I’m at the age where most of my friends are in the throes of life with young ones. The idea of sitting down and teaching their kids about Jesus (or anything!) seems overwhelming. It’s enough trouble just getting through the day.
Now I’m wondering if I can assist with this great task. How can I help teach the children around me to eat from the tree of life, while still taking good care of the tree of good and evil?
Here’s a call to action I’m finding great hope in today. “And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul” (Deuteronomy 10:12).
What must I do to become a positive influence? Love the Lord, serve Him with all my heart, accept others, and trust Him to do justice. My responsibility? Pour into those around me. Live out the faith in my heart.
American writer Ralph Waldo Emerson says it this way, which I find motivational, “Who you are speaks so loudly I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
Although I’m not yet a parent, I think I’m beginning to understand with some urgency what’s at stake for our children.
I bear witness to the amazing parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and strangers who have passed their faith through the generations by faithful service and staying focused on what matters. My personal faith is a testament to these authentic witnesses. I am grateful for the influence and attention my parents, grandparents and many, many faithful Christians poured into my spiritual health. Now I understand and resolve to do the same for others. Thank you.