Tuesday, February 12, 2008

You Can Take a Child to the Beach but...

The below excerpt from For the Children's Sake is a thought provoking word picture for Christian parenting.

I once witnessed a pathetic scene. A determined father was "teaching" his toddler to "enjoy" the sea. The babe was firmly carried into the breakers and plonked into a cold foaming, crashing world. Poor wee mite! She protested loudly with cries. The father had a "you-have-to-enjoy-this-or-else" look on his face. The child was forced to "play" in the water. The terror, unpleasantness, and the force probably left that child with a lifelong dislike of water, the ocean in particular. When you take a toddler to the beach, you don't follow a "method." You sit down near the water. Child number one rushes right into the waves, loves it, and risks drowning if you aren't at hand. You keep having to haul him back from the deep water. Child two spends the vacation playing at the edge of the water. He shovels stand into it, watches it, and maybe at last splashes back and forth, after you have put on his shoes to go home! You have allowed the youngster to be himself. You respect his individuality, and he, in turn, makes his very own relationship with that joy: a beach.

In the same way, we let the children come to our Lord by letting them know about Him. We are careful to "go to the beach." We read an appropriate portion of God's Word to the regularly. They can read His words, see that we are all in relationship with Him, that we have a King, Savior, Helper, Friend. Later on, the thinking aspects - the realization that this is truth - will follow. But don't try to schedule how the child will feel, how the child will react, when he should understand each step, etc. Get out of the way. Let the child, God, and His Word be alone together. Let them work out their own relationship.

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