Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Diligently teaching

I was reading the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin to Silas yesterday.  If you are not familiar with the book, it reinforces color recognition by repeating phrases of animals that are a certain color.  For example, it starts with a picture of a brown bear and the text says, "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?  I see a red bird looking at me."  The next page has a picture of a red bird and repeats the text, "Red Bird, Red Bird, what do you see?"  And so on.  All of my kids have loved this book, I must have read it a million times.
As I read the book to Silas, it occurred to me to that even though he does not know his colors yet, he still has me read the book over and over.  He still knows the words even though he doesn't understand the connection to identifying colors because developmentally he is not quite there yet.  But that doesn't mean I stop reading the book to him or that he can't know the words and say them along with me.
I began to relate this idea to the training of our children.  Just because they are not developmentally old enough to understand and identify heart issues or biblical truths, does not mean I don't teach them or even talk about them.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 instructs parents in this regard:

4"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
When we remind ourselves of these truths and have them on our heart, we can't keep from sharing  with our children the most important thing they need to know in life.  This passage doesn't qualify an age when it is appropriate to teach these things, it just says to do it diligently (the NLT says to repeat them again and again) and then with time and maturity our children will grow into the words and they will hear them with new insight because they will be old enough to understand and can apply it.
But if we don't repeat these truths, we let other things take over the hearts of our children.  Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things and if we don't tend the hearts of our children with the truth of who they are and who God is we let other things grow there.  Deceit sounds like a harsh word to associate with a child but that is why I think these verses in Deuteronomy were written!  We need to combat deceit with the truth, all the time.  Sally Clarkson writes about this beautifully in this post and says it much better than I can, but she adds that what we say and teach our children will mold them (and their brains!) and when they are older, they will not depart from it. 
As I read Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? to Silas and hear him say the words along with me, I know that someday he will be able to read it with a new understanding.  And I have faith that all my children will someday grow into the truths I have been diligently teaching.
And what I will see will be a colorful mosaic of God's grace in their lives. 

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