Encouragement 07-07-04


July 7, 2004
Encouragement for Today
"Teaching in the Context of the Moment"
(Part 1)
 Ginger Plowman, Author, Assistant Director with Proverbs 31 Ministries
Certified Speaker
Key Verse:
"And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ."  Philippians 1:9-10 (NIV)
Teaching in the context of the moment is the most natural time for your child to learn and grow. Too often, we try to force a teachable moment before the child is ready to learn a particular lesson. I have learned through the years that I should teach in accordance with my child's need to learn.
This lesson was clarified for me one Easter. For the past several years, my husband and I have attended the Atlanta Passion Play, a musical drama portraying the Life of Christ. Every year I find that my heart is revived, my love for Jesus deepened, and my passion for His Word stirred. This particular year was to be even more special because we would take my almost eight-year-old son, Wesley. For months, I prayed that God would use this presentation to touch his heart with an understanding of exactly who Jesus is and what He has done for him. I prayed that God would reveal himself to Wesley in a new way and that Wesley would truly surrender his life to Jesus.
The day finally came and I sat with my son at center stage, second row. My heart began to beat rapidly with the anticipation of what would happen in Wesley's little heart today. Throughout the presentation, I whispered up prayers to God asking Him to give Wesley understanding. I can say with certainty that I spent more time watching his face and trying to read his thoughts than I did watching the play.
Then came the scene where Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm. The winds blew hard, the boat rocked fiercely, and the waves smashed wildly against the boat. Wesley's eyebrows raised and his expression intensified. Suddenly, he leaned over to ask me a question and I thought, "Oh, good! This will be a great opportunity for me to explain the awesome power of Jesus!" As he cupped his little hand around my ear, he whispered, "Mom, is that a bunch of trash bags or one big tarp they are using for those waves?"
I realized at that moment that I was holding on too tightly to his heart. I was trying to force a teachable moment. As I giggled away my expectations, I breathed a new prayer. I prayed that I would be ready and willing to plant the seeds but that I would leave the timing and the harvesting to God.
(This devotional was adapted from Ginger's book, Don't Make Me Count to Three!  published by Shepherd Press)

My prayer for today:
Lord, please prompt me to seize opportunities in daily life to point my children to you in a natural way.  Bring them to the realization that Christianity is not about attending church or Sunday school, but is found in a personal and ongoing relationship with you.
Application steps:
Look for a natural opportunity to discuss God's hand in a situation today with your children.  Don't preach a sermon or conduct a lengthy Bible study.  Simply acknowledge God's presence in a casual way.

Reflection points:
Am I trying to control my child's faith or am I trusting God to reach his heart?
Do I measure my success as a mom by where my child is spiritually?  Why is that wrong?
How am I pointing my children to God with my words?
How am I pointing my children to God with my actions?

Power verses:
Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  (NIV)
Proverbs 15:28, The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.  (NIV)
Ephesians 6:4, Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (NIV)
2 Peter 1:3, His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.  (NIV)

Additional resources:
Don't Make Me Count to Three! by Ginger Plowman
Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman
Mining for Gold in the Heart of Your Child by Renee Swope

Originally published Wednesday, 07 July 2004.