I heard a startling statistic this week on a radio talk show. A large poll was taken among those who called themselves Evangelical Christians and the results were surprising but not really shocking. Until they gave this statistic... only 25% of Evangelical Christians surveyed said they felt faith played an important part of their raising children. Amazing...
Perhaps it was because I came from a background where God was referred to mainly as "The Man Upstairs" and given no more status than any other fairy tale. Perhaps it was becoming a Christian during the Jesus Movement or even the strong impact of my early mentoring from books by Francis and Edith Schaeffer. I chose to immerse my kids in the Faith, that Jesus be as real a member of our family as any other person... more so since He would be with them when Mom and Dad were not.
It started with talking to them from their infancy, to precept-upon-precept and line-upon-line instruction as we cooked dinner or took a walk in the early evening. I can remember with both children stopping to pick up a rock on the side of the road and remarking how God is so creative that He made simple rocks to be beautiful when cracked open. Or... looking at the various flowers or birds and remarking how God loved color so much that He gave us so many varieties of color in nature around us.
I would talk about how He could have given us manna to eat each day but instead He delighted in creating flavors that were good alone and when combined with other ingredients became something entirely new and delicious.
I would talk (quite often) about God's laughter and sense of humor as He created puppies, and kitties, and the duck billed platypus that appeared to be put together with nature's spare parts.
I would read lots and lots of books to each and talk about how God's Word says He has books... Jesus is called THE WORD. How great literature takes us to places we could never visit ourselves or gives us a desire to visit a different land and talk to a people not our own. The gift of imagination and putting images in our mind to words... His gift.
We talked about pretty pictures they drew and great art by the Masters and how God delights in both. We listened to tapes by Psalty, the Scripture put to music, great hymns and praise music, classical symphonies, crooners from the 40s, early Rock & Roll of the 50s, the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean (their father's favorites from the 60s), and my beloved John Denver... and talked about God's provision of music in our lives.
As each grew older, we talked about current events and society... what was right and wrong from a Biblical perspective. We talked about being salt and light in the world while also walking in love toward those who disagreed.
They joined us in prayer during bad times and rejoicing in the good... knowing answers came from God and weren't simple coincidences.
How can three out of four Evangelical Christians (not liberal... not unbelievers...) say they don't include Faith in their parenting, especially during the critical childhood years?
I have quite often pondered three of my favorite Jewish ancestors from the Old Testament... Joseph, Daniel, and Queen Esther. All three went through great trauma in their childhood or youth. All three were taken to pagan lands and places by their teens. Yet, when the "rubber met the road"... all three showed a deep and enduring faith that affected their entire world and endeared them to those in power... pagan Pharaohs and Kings.
I so often have wondered about their parents (and Esther's Uncle)... they had such a little amount of time to make Jehovah God real... so real that they could walk with deep faith among pagan lands... humiliated by the embarrassment of slavery, standing for what was right in God's eyes when giving in would have been easier, and then overcoming those temptations that came with obtaining great power.
I knew I was raising an Esther and a Daniel as society became more Postmodern with each year. Time went so quickly, I blinked and each was grown. Teaching the Word, knowing God, learning to walk with Him... if not taught during the growing up years then when do parents expect them to learn?
Three out of four Evangelical Christians said Faith wasn't important... I shudder to think of their children as they face the world they are inheriting today and try to live with no Anchor... or Friend... to lead and on Whom they can depend.