When we board an airplane, we put a lot of trust into people and technology that we really don't get to see. There's the pilot in the cockpit doing pre-flight checks. We usually don't see him until we are getting off the plane, yet we trust that he is there, that he has all his mental faculties in order, and that he know what he is doing. There's the airplane itself, tens of thousands of functions and calculations being done to make sure this giant hunk of metal stays airborne. None of us stop to check any mechanical parts of the plane or question why there is duct tape over a section of rivets. There's the navigation system and communications devices that connect us to the people and technology that not only know where we are going, but knows where every other plane in the sky is so we don't hit them. We trust that all these people and systems are working together. After all, we can't even see out the front window!
Every time we fly without crashing or serious incident, we trust that the next flight will be as good or better than the last. Because we have experienced flying, we can fly with confidence, even though we are generally unaware of most of the things going on around us while in flight. Conversely, when we see on the news that a plane has crashed, we lose a little bit of that confidence and question the safety of flight a little bit. Although, at least for me, my confidence in whether or not I am going to make it to my destination safely is based more on my experience than anything else.
Direct your children onto the right path,
and when they are older, they will not leave it.
As parents, Stephanie and I have made a conscious decision to bring up our son in the church and make sure that the foundation of his world view is built on a belief in God and an understanding that Jesus died for his sins and rose from the dead so that he (our son) could have a relationship with God.
We want to share our experiences with God with him because we have come to trust in God over time. My first go 'round with God was through religion, and I did not make the connection that Jesus did what he did so that I could have a relationship with my creator. I thought Jesus did what he did so I could go to church on Sunday and follow a list of rules. That experience did not give me confidence or reason to go on the journey of life with God as my pilot. Thankfully, God did not give up on me and I made the choice to give my life to him after learning about the importance of building a relationship with him.
But this isn't about me...
Just like with flight, however, our son will not build confidence in something he cannot see until he has experienced it for himself. His faith will not grow unless he experiences God at work in his life. This means that there are a few things he will experience that will aid in the building of his faith...
Through music and worship he will feel God's presence
Through prayer he will learn to lean in on God and take time to stop and listen
Through messages and sermons he would develop a better understanding of God's word
Through personal time in the Bible he will find God's promises and teachings
Through these spiritual disciplines, he will learn how to connect with God. These are all great ways to experience God, but they generally happen in a controlled environment where he is surrounded my other believers; where it is easy to have faith. The real test for him while occur while he is in flight, seemingly on his own, and left to determine for himself the validity and realness of God...
Someone very close to him will let him down and he will have to choose to forgive
Someone will hurt him emotionally and he will have to choose to reconcile with that person
Someone will leave the church and he will be left to understand why
Someone he trusts and respects will try to shake his faith and make him question his relationship with God and he will have to decide what he believes is true
Through his relationships with other people, he will learn how to trust in God. He will take the time to question what we have lead him to believe and will have to decide for himself if he believes, too. When this happens, our faith will become his faith. For some, it takes time -- it takes a journey that leads them far away from the church. We as parents will have our faith tested as we watch our children stray from what we've taught them. It is important, however, that our children learn to navigate these situations and learn that their faith is not based on the people in this world, but on the God who created it.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
Learning to trust God also means spending time in the valleys of life. There is a lot God can teach us when we battle with our faith...
- He will go to God only to feel like there is no one there
- He will pray for something and God will not answer in the way that he expected/hoped
- He will feel the weight of the enemy's attack on his shoulder
- He will feel helpless
- He will feel guilt and shame
No one wants their child to go through these times. It would be nice if we could shelter our children from all the evils in this world, but we aren't helping them by trying to do so. It is through the testing of our faith that we solidify our belief in God and come to understand our reliance on him. Those times in the valley, no matter how bad, eventually lead out of the valley. When we emerge, we emerge more confident that God is who he says he is than ever before.
Let's give each other the freedom to question our faith. Let's help each other seek the answers we are looking for. If your faith is strong enough, then you will know that God can handle it. If the foundation of your faith is no solid; if you need a better in flight experience with God, then find someone whose faith is strong and lean on them. Your church is a great place to start -- take some time to speak to and hear from God with other believers so that you can learn to discern God's voice from all the other noise in this world so that when you are dealing with the people and the ups-and-downs of life, you will know that God is there, that he loves you, and that he is working things out for the good of his people.
Gather with us this Sunday as we begin a new series, Harvest! It's about time. Bring a friend, it could change their life.