I’ve been helping my two youngest memorize some simple scriptures lately. Sydney has retained a lot more than I thought she would. I’ve been really proud of her. Tate is not doing quite as well, mainly because he is harder to motivate, I think. His paraphrased version of Proverbs 3:5 shows me he is trying though. The actual verse is: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding” but Tate’s rendition was: “Trust in Jesus and lean forward.” I know that our God is understanding and knows Tate’s heart and abilities. Autism may keep Tate from ever being truly accountable but I am determined that he will learn as much as he is able to, for as long as I am able to teach him.
Whatever our age or abilities, God expects us to give Him our best. He wants us to be zealous, not apathetic (Revelations 3:16.)
Tate has a wonderful relationship with God. Tate talks to God like he would any of us that he can see in the room with him. A few nights ago, Tate burped during his prayer and asked God to excuse him. During the same prayer Tate reminded God that it was Levi’s birthday and paused to look at Levi and say, “Happy Birthday Levi.” It is great the way Tate includes God in the “conversation.” It might appear a little irreverent to some but Tate doesn’t have the mind or the abilities of the typical eleven year old. He is stuck somewhere around age five in some areas. In others he seems to be around age eight to me. This is hard because he is almost six feet tall now and he doesn’t appear to be handicapped at a glance. I’m so glad that God knows our hearts and does not judge on appearance. “For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7.)
Tate may never be able to preach a sermon or teach a Bible class but who can know what influence he will have on others? He has already taught me so much. I am a much better Christian for having known Tate. I prayed for patience for many years and wondered why I didn’t seem to be able to make any gains with that one fruit of the spirit. And then came Tate. He was the answer to my prayer for patience. I have patience with Tate, and because I have patience with Tate, I have been able to expand on that in so many other areas.
I overheard a mother and preschooler talking a while back. We all happened to be developing pictures at the same time and eavesdropping was unavoidable. The little girl was telling her mother the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale. The mother said, “You know that is just a pretend story.” The little girl said, “Daddy said it was true.” The mother replied, “SOME stories in the Bible are true but some stories are just pretend.” The little girl said, “But Daddy said the whole Bible is true.” The mother changed the subject. I was blown away. I had just overheard a mother discouraging her daughter from believing God’s word! I kept hoping the little girl would go home and ask her daddy to explain to her mommy that Jonah was a real man who was swallowed by a real whale and coughed up three days later. Why do some people want to limit God’s power? Can we really pick and choose which Bible stories we want to believe and which ones we want to disregard as fairytales? Jesus does tell some parables in the Bible but He is always clear on what is a parable and what is not. If we think a whale swallowing a man is not believable, then where do we draw the line? Did Jesus REALLY die and come back to life three days later, or is that just make-believe too? Did God really create the earth in six days or do we have to buy into the big bang and evolution? It takes a lot more “faith” to believe that something came from nothing and life was started in a pool of goo than it does to believe in God’s ability to create life. It takes a lot more “faith” to believe the world and animals evolved for millions of years with everything happening by chance, than it does to believe the world is six or eight thousand years old and the Biblical account of creation is accurate.
God tells us to teach our children about Him (Ephesians 6:4, Proverbs 22:6.)
Start when they are very small. I have a really special memory of my oldest. He was just a toddler. My husband had got into the habit of asking him every Sunday, on the way home from worship, what he had learned in Bible class. Our boy didn’t have a lot of language yet; he wasn’t even out of diapers. I had taught the parable of the Good Samaritan (a story Jesus told.) My little boy excitedly told his daddy, “There was a man. And the first one didn’t. And the second one didn’t. But the third one, He DID!” That, in a nutshell, was the story of the Good Samaritan. That little boy has grown up. He is a youth minister now and preaches regularly. I listen to his recorded sermons on the internet now and I am so proud. I taught him the truth. He is well on his way to an eternal home with God. It doesn’t happen by accident folks and it cannot happen if you are not teaching your Children the Truth about God.
People today believe some pretty far-fetched things. I’ve heard adults tell children that people become angels when they die. If you study the Bible you will learn that angels are created beings, just like people. People have a soul that is eternal but people do not turn into angels upon death. I’ve heard adults tell children that their pets will be in heaven, waiting for them, while the Bible clearly teaches us that animals do not have souls and do not have an afterlife. I’ve heard adults telling children lately that homosexuals are just living an alternate way of life, while the Bible clearly teaches that homosexuality is an abomination and unnatural (1 Corinthians 6:9.)
Recently I have had the opportunity to discuss some religious topics with non-religious people, people who believe in God but want no part of organized religion. I am always amazed at some of the ideas people have and what they base those ideas on, since they do not know much scripture. Once, I had someone tell me that when it snowed, they knew it was their mom and dad sending them something beautiful from heaven, as if our souls will control the weather some day. This is not taught in the Bible and is actually contrary to what God does say about those who have died (Ecclesiastes 9:5.) Someone recently told me they were sure their father was getting to go hunting in heaven. I have found nothing in the scriptures to support anything like that. I have even been told that there will be margaritas in heaven. To believe there will be liquor in heaven when God calls drinking sinful on earth really leaves me scratching my head (Proverbs 23:31, 1 Corinthians 6:10.) Where do we get these distorted beliefs? We cannot make up our own “heaven” and base heaven on what we hope it is going to be like, and then expect it to magically appear for us when we leave this life. Heaven is not a magical, mythical place that will be individualized for each of us. Heaven is described in the Bible in many places and we are given clear instructions on what we need to do to get there. Hell is described also and it doesn’t take anything to get there. Nothing. Apathy will do it. Telling your children that Bible stories are not real will get YOU there. Sadly, it will get them there too. Please people. Teach your children about God. Heaven and Hell are real places. Ignoring them will not make them go away.