As parents, we are often teaching our children. We teach them to clap their hands, play peek-a-boo, crawl, walk, hold our hands in parking lots, and to look both ways when they cross the street. We teach them the abcís and ďJesus Loves MeĒ. We teach them the facts of life and how to treat others.
In fact, we have learned how to turn any moment into a teachable one. We know how to gain insight from crisis, injuries, sickness and failure. We are experts in object lessons.
Yet as much as we teach our children, have you ever stopped and thought about the things they have taught you? I have learned more deep spiritual concepts from my children than I ever have in reading a book or sitting in church. They have taught me more about life and God than Iíll ever be able to teach them.
Frank, my firstborn, taught me the concept of unconditional love. I have always loved love! I had my first crush in Kindergarten and have been head over heals in love with many boys ever since. I have always loved God, my family and every day I love my husband more. But I never really understood love until I became pregnant with Frank.
I never knew how you could love someone without seeing them or talking with them. Yet from the moment I knew there was life inside me, I felt love.
As any mother would know, the moment you finally lay your eyes on that precious bundle of joy and hold that newborn in your own arms, a love like no other floods your soul. I love all my children, but I first learned of love from my son.
Now I understand how much God loved Jesus. Now I understand how much God must have loved us to have sacrificed that son. Now I understand that even when I fail that God still loves me, because I still love my son when he makes mistakes. Frank isnít perfect, but I love him. Iím not perfect, but God loves me.
ďFor I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Ē (Romans 8:38-39 NIV)
Frank has also taught me to love other people. Iíve never known a child so humble and compassionate. When he was 4 years old he sat at the kitchen table and said of his best friend, ďI like him as much as my life.Ē He instantly brought Jesus to my mind, ďGreater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.Ē (John 15:13)
Frank taught me more about love that I ever thought possible.
My oldest daughter Aubrey taught me to rely on prayer. I could give countless examples on how she has brought prayer into my life and made it real. Please allow me to share a few.
We began to have serious financial trouble before she was born. My husband had to go to work out of state when I was seven months pregnant, leaving me home with a 22 month old toddler. Iíd never prayed more urgently before that time.
The day after my daughter was born; we brought her home in a snowstorm. We didnít realize how bad the conditions were and my husband drove blindly through drifting snow, complete white out. I sat in the back seat, hovering over my infant praying that God would guide our car and get us home safe. I believe God must have special things in store for her; it was a sheer miracle that we ever made it through that storm.
By the time she was a toddler, I began to take my spiritual life seriously. Iíve always been a Christian, but I had never understood about having a relationship with Jesus. I began attending a Womenís Bible Study and through lessons and friendships I became convicted that I need to update my prayer life.
Bedtime became a precious time for the two of us. Iíll always remember holding her tiny form in my arms while I rocked. I would pray softly for my new Christian friends. Even though we were often in desperate circumstances, I focused my prayers on others. Together, tiny Aubrey and I would pray over struggling marriages, fertility problems, sickness and unspoken needs. The peace I felt on those nights was indescribable. Even when our finances were at an all time low, I could gain strength from those quiet moments of prayer; praying for others, knowing others were praying for me.
Aubrey has always seemed to have a special relationship with Jesus. Once, when I was stressed out and overwhelmed, too much housework, too little time and baby number three on the way, she looked me in the eye and asked in her serious three year old voice, ďWhy donít you pray about it, Mommy?Ē
Prayer is the answer isnít it? I have learned the importance of praying over every aspect in my life from my oldest daughter. No concern or praise is too small or too big for our awesome God! ďDo not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Ē (Philippians 4:6-7 NIV)
We chose the name Grace for our third child before she was born. She was our undeserved gift and a surprise one at that. I had been so blessed by my two older children, that I did not feel deserving of such another blessing. Yet my daughter Grace, our youngest, is truly a gift from God.
From Grace I have learned the depths of joy. When she was born, I hadnít realized that Iíd forgotten it. Somewhere along the way business had taken over. I had too many things to do to stop and enjoy my life. I remember feeling that if I let my guard down, I would lose control of the children. Then Grace came and reminded me to smile.
When she was a baby, I would get lost in her perfect blue eyes and sweet face. She was the spit-and-image of her dad. Quite uncontrollably, I would look into that face and my own face would break into a smile. When I smiled at her, it was like Iíd forgotten how until that very moment.
Over the years, our little gift has continued to bring us joy. I could watch her for hours laying in the yard picking clover and dandelions. She loves flowers and anything fancy. Even the clothes she chooses are cheerful; if not flamboyant (would you call sequins and feathers flamboyant?)
I have learned to appreciate the gifts God has given me through my daughter Grace. I have learned that itís good to smile and great to laugh. I have also learned that not only is it okay to stop all housework and dance in the middle of the Living Room floor, itís actually quite enjoyable! I have enjoyed all of my children, but my daughter Grace taught me how to appreciate the joy set before me!
ďFor you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands. How great are your works, O Lord, how profound your thoughts!Ē (Psalm 92:4-5 NIV)
As my children grow, I hope that I will always remember to take the time to learn the important things of life they have to teach me. Jesus said in Luke 18:17, ďAnyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.Ē (NIV)
God is so great. He is so wonderful. He is so brilliant! ďThe foolishness of God is wiser than manís wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than manís strength.Ē (I Corinthians 1:25 NIV) Only a God as awesome, loving and gracious as ours would give us little innocent children to demonstrate his love, power and joy!
What have you learned from your children today? Do they have deep spiritual truths to teach you? Why donít we take a break from explaining everything to them, and give them an opportunity to explain a few things to us. Letís see how many teachable moments they can share.