This morning my 18 month old daughter very clearly and simply reoriented my eyes towards Christ in a very pure and basic sense while I was trying to model for her the complexities of faith.
I’ve learned a lot through participating in Fuller Youth Institute‘s Sticky Faith Learning Cohort. Many of the things I’ve learned I’m trying to implement into the ministry I lead as well as practice practically in my own home. One of the things we’re trying to do is live into the truth that, as parents, Christina and I are, whether we like it or not, the greatest and primary spiritual influence on our children.
As our daughter was playing in her room this morning I decided I’d take the opportunity to sit at our dinner table and spend some time reading my Bible. What greater way to help instill a desire to read scripture in my daughter than for her to grow up seeing her dad spending time doing the same? Her initial interest in anything I’m doing brought her to my lap at the table. Yet the fact that my Bible didn’t have any pictures, animals, and was relatively “untouchable” to her drool-drenched fingers proved to be deal-breakers for any further inquiry in my spiritual practice. She jumped out of my lap, ran to her room, and brought out a Farm Animal board. The kind of board that has outlined pictures of animals that match pictures on large wooden animals that fit in each outline. The competition began. Me vs the puzzle. Spiritual Parenting vs. the tempting lures of the world. Clearly her future “Christ-following” was in the balance!
Realizing that I needed to quick switch to something more “relevant” than the Bible as to keep my daughter’s spiritual attention I dove into my work bag and pulled out the hippest, trendiest book I could find that even had a relevant/trendy/edgy name, “Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream“. Surely this will at least model for Brylie the importance of reading! Well, while I was reading, she would walk to her room, pick up one of the animals pictured from the board, come back to climb into my lap, then place it on the board. She did this one by one until all pieces were found.
The sheep was missing. She went back and forth from her room probably half a dozen times bringing out different pieces from different boards each trying to fit into the outline of the sheep with no avail. I became annoyed that my attempts in modeling a holy Christian discipleship and love for formational spiritual disciplines were being lost to the adventures of “Farm Board”. So I went with Brylie to find the sheep with the same result as her prior 6 attempts.
I sat back at the dinner table, picked up my book and was content with continuing reading whether Brylie was going to appreciate my exceptional parenting or not. Then all of a sudden Brylie crawls up into my lap one last time holding in her hand the lost sheep. She had found it! Where? I have no idea. But I do know that I celebrated with her! We danced, we sang, and we took pictures! Because I realized in that moment I had been the beneficiary of a Divine Interruption!
I became so caught up in the “doing” of Christianity this morning that I was not seeing the board as Brylie was seeing it. She saw the board as the home of each animal (and farm!) and was determined to make sure every piece was found! She saw the board in the same way that God sees his Kingdom! We all men, women, and children have a place marked out for them and he will relentlessly pursue till every lost sheep is found! This is why Christ came to earth as a baby that night in a stable! God was determined that each one of his created, his sheep, would be found when the world had given up looking! This is why we celebrate and this is why we as Christ-followers must be more concerned about seeking the lost than proving a posture of holiness!
My 18 month daughter taught her 28 year old father a greater perspective of Christ birth and the season of Christmas.