Ice Cream and Family Devotions
Dinner time is also a time for family devotions in our household – but these short moments of Bible reading and asking our oldest a few questions seem to be rather shallow. I want to take my kids to the foot of the cross in prayer. But it feels like I am failing at this part. At the end of dinner the 2 year old is dancing in her chair singing about the impending ice cream – even if we don’t have any ice cream. The 6 year old is so slow at eating that mommy and daddy are having a hard time keeping the ice cream singing 2 year old in her seat. By the time we are all done eating and ready to read the bible the 6 year old wants to go to the washroom…sigh.
Ok. Finally. We are ready. Daddy gets out the “big” bible. And he reads from it, but before he does, daddy asks the 6 year old to be ready to answer a question or two. The 2 year old does not get it – at all. She doesn’t understand anything Daddy is saying. And she hates that she has to participate in such a boring delay to the impending ice cream. “Igream Igream igheam igheam” she chants, while attempting to sway us that there is something much more important that she is not getting. Eventually she runs away, or by some miracle she sits still and listens – which does happen…from time to time.
She doesn’t understand anything I’m saying, but she is learning what is going on. She is watching daddy take a leadership role in the family. Look a book! No pictures… She hears daddy reading…probably listening for the words “ice” or “cream.” Then Daddy prays. Now this is even more fun for a 2 year old– “no one is watching me…” she thinks, and tries to sneak off her seat. Mommy catches her and she cries about …you guessed it – ice cream! She is doing a great job of distracting Daddy, who stumbles around to find his place in his prayer… The point is that she is watching daddy pray, and she is learning that something important is going on here even before she understands a word that was read or prayed about. Finally daddy says, “Amen,” Which is like the lunch bell at school… “All done!” says the 2 year old, immediately followed with a chant of, “Ice cream! Ice cream!” and we all laugh.
So while I am thinking of having family devotions at a time other than dinner to alleviate the headache of the ice cream chant, the important thing is that she is included in our family devotions. So maybe I am not failing in these things. Yes these family devotions are shallow compared to my personal devotions, but they don’t have the knowledge of God to know Him, nor do they really understand what is going on. Even though she is 2, she is being trained in devotions. And as she grows and I will try to engage her at the level she is at, with the Bible and the passage we read. Her sister, at age 6, now has to answer some questions about the reading and she also says a short prayer after I pray. As they grow I will ensure that they understand these things, what real faith is, what the gospel message is, what justification means (good luck trying to explain justification to a 6 year old!).
I want my children to grow up understanding the doctrine I teach them, but I also want them to see that this Christianity which I am teaching them is not just some set of doctrine, but that it is really God the father loving his children. What better way to teach our children the love of God at this young age, than to love them as our heavenly father loves us?
I think it is time for ice cream.
Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.