I should know better than to underestimate my kids. I really should.
When Caleb, my oldest, was three years old, the church we were pastoring at the time had a once-a-month family worship Sunday where all the kids (except the babies) were a part of the regular service with their parents. Having kids three and over in the service seemed like an excellent idea to me until I had a three-year-old. Then, suddenly, three seemed way too young.
I don’t remember a whole lot about that first service that Caleb was with me. I spent almost the whole service quietly whispering reminders to him to sit still and color, and answering his many questions. We probably even had to step out once or twice for a (louder) conversation about why he couldn’t get down and run around in the middle of church and what would happen if he did it again.
But this one thing I do remember: at the end of service, when I asked him about his drawing, Caleb pointed to the note page he’d been coloring on, and paraphrased something his daddy had said during the sermon.
I was rendered speechless. I’d spent the last hour fretting and stewing about his behavior, sure that he was too young for what we were trying to do, but he had been listening.
I learned then that if we will give our kids a chance to encounter the truth of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit is capable of using it to work in their hearts, no matter how young they are.
But I guess it’s a lesson I still need to learn, because I underestimated my kids again just a couple weeks ago. We’ve been reading the Bible together as a family at breakfast this school year, using a 180-day reading plan that highlights some of the major stories and ideas in Scripture. I’ve been skipping around a little, omitting things that I thought would be too complicated for them to understand.
But Wednesday, I was in a hurry, and we were behind on our reading for the week due to a couple morning commitments earlier in the week, so I just grabbed my Bible, turned to Ezekiel 1 and started reading. Two or three verses in I regretted not previewing the text. It was an account of Ezekiel’s vision of the four living creatures. It went into lengthy detail about their faces and wings and wheels. It was so abstract. I didn’t even really understand it, so I sped through to the end as quickly as I could, thinking I was probably losing their attention.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
As soon as we were done, Caleb asked to read it again. He wanted me to read it slower, so he could really picture the creatures in his mind, and draw them. This is what he drew:
It may not be super obvious at first glance, but this is such a faithful attempt to capture what Ezekiel talks about. It’s got four faces: a man, an eagle, a lion, and an ox. It has multiple sets of wings, and the legs of a calf.
I just love it.
I put it right up on the fridge, and I hope it will serve as a reminder to me that the Holy Spirit is working in my children’s hearts just as surely as He is working in mine. I hope it reminds me that just because a passage of Scripture doesn’t speak to me, that doesn’t mean it won’t speak to my children. I hope it reminds me that if I want my kids to grow in Christ, they need to be exposed to the entire word of God, not just the parts I like.
So let me encourage you today: read the Bible with your kids. Don’t worry that they’re too young or immature. Just plant the seed, and watch God make it grow.