I truly believe that each one of us carries the words and actions of life and death. On a recent flight, our flight attendant, Jebidiah, made our small flight fun and engaging. So much so that the young lady sitting beside me told him that this was her best flight ever (she mentioned traveling a lot). There was nothing special about my United flight from Chicago to Louisville, but Jebidiah’s attitude made all the difference.
I think this is especially true as a dad. We can no longer take for granted that our families will stay intact. We can no longer take for granted that our marriages will flourish. I want to be like Jebidiah… I want to take the mundane aspects of our family life and make them special.
This past weekend I had one of those opportunities. On a Sunday morning instead of going to church, I surprised Anna and Nicholas and told them to dress for a hike and grab a devotional they would like to share with the rest of us.
I got the “look” from them, like, “Really dad?” I gave them the look back, “Yes, really!” “Please pick a devotional that you would like to read. Don’t just grab anything and pick something randomly. Pick something that you want to share.”
“We are not going to church?” my youngest asked.
“We are doing “church” a little differently this morning.” I responded.
So we got into the car and we drove to Red Rock Canyon here in Colorado Springs. It is a favorite of ours as a family. We headed up to this one rock formation overlooking a lake (which with all the rain we have had was an actual lake and not the puddle it usually is.)
We sat up on the rocks and I told my kids that oftentimes when we see Jesus teaching in the New Testament that it was not in the “brick and mortar” church we often attend but it was in the community itself. I then asked each of my kids to read a devotional that they chose.
A Wholehearted Dad
Brene Brown in her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” writes about wholeheartedness. She writes, “knowledge is important, but only if we’re being kind and gentle with ourselves as we work to discover who we are. Wholeheartedness is as much about embracing our tenderness and vulnerability as it is about developing knowledge and claiming power.”
She then writes something that blew me away. “And perhaps the most painful lesson of that day hit me so hard that it took my breath away: It was clear from the data that we cannot give our children what we don’t have. Where we are on our journey of living and loving with our whole hearts is a much stronger indicator of parenting success than anything we can learn from how-to books.”
“We cannot give our children what we don’t have.” The truth of this statement is that each and every day we are giving our children something. The question for us is it the stuff we want them to have. That is a hard question for any parent to answer.
As we sat there on that beautiful day spending time together I reflected on how special this moment was. My daughter started us off. I was blown away by what she chose.
“A Faithful Father”… wow… may that be true of me. It was great to reflect that morning on our Heavenly Father and how faithful he has been to our family. As Anna shared about the things God has done for us, I wondered how well I was doing in reflecting His image in my home.
Nicholas was up next. He shared about loving God and loving others.
We talked about how well do we show and demonstrate Christ’s love in our interactions with each other. The depth of our conversation surprised me.
I then shared a devotional from the Piper Devotional App. We chatted and talked. We talked about school and life in general. It was a sweet moment for all of us. In those moments I realized that as a dad I was not only affirming who they were but was affirming who we were as a family.
I am not sure what lesson they missed out on that morning in Sunday School but as we walked out of the canyon that morning the kids asked when we could do this again. I said, “I hope soon.”
I will always treasure this moment. I hope we can get back soon. I would love for Karen and Emily to join us this next time.
Each and every day as parents we are passing something onto our children. If we want our children to know and understand the power of Christ in their lives, I need to be able to have that myself. Deuteronomy 6 states; Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on 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. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
“You cannot give what you do not have.” May those words not only challenge us to go deeper in our relationship with our Heavenly Father but to go deeper with our children. Because as dads and parents…we are truly His image bearer.