Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. ~Proverbs 22:6
Last night when I tucked in my sweet Scooter, we prayed together like always. Not unusually, bedtime is a time when hearts are softened and the deepest thoughts flow to the nearest ear. So I wasn't surprised when Joe started to talk about some concerns. But then he said something that took me by surprise:
"Mom, I'm only 8 years old. And most people live to be about 90 so I have at least 80 more years of pain and discomfort and temptations to do the wrong thing."
"...and I believe in God and everything, but how can I really know who He is? There are so many religions out there...how do I know this is the right one? What if this is the wrong one? When I lay in bed at night I pray and sometimes I hear a voice in my mind talking to me...but is that God? How do I know if it's God?"
Now I was floored. Not because Joe is questioning God, whether He's real...all those things, but because this kid is just eight years old & I was surprised to hear such heavy thoughts come out of such a small boy.
This is unchartered territory for us, except for our own experiences of coming to believe in and know God, having understanding of who He is. I started this journey myself when I was 10 or 11, and I lived years of a process of choosing God to be my God, believing in Him...that Christ is truly the only Way to the Father and that the God we believe in is the only one who reached down to us, rather than people trying to reach their gods.
So I gave Joe a few simple answers. Why Ralph & I believe that our God is the one true God. Ralph and I tucked him in and then left, knowing that this is the beginning of a journey Joe will make with God alone. I cannot be the one to answer all of His questions. He'll have to get in the Word and learn and decide on his own.
But Ralph and I have so much peace knowing that Joe (and all our boys) has always belonged to God first. Iif we love that little boy so, so dearly, God loves him a million times more and will take care of him all the days of his life. We entrust Joe to God. After all, it was God's kindness that drew us into Himself, our awareness of our need for Him and His grace when we came. We know our boys will find that grace awaiting too.
For school Joe has a notebook in which he and I volley question and answers. I asked him:
"When you see God and can ask Him questions, what three questions will you ask?"
When I see God, I'll ask Him how long is forever, how it is that He was never born and what is true.
Oh, rich, rich little minds we are teaching, Lord. Only You can show what is true. I look forward to the unfolding of these truths, Lord. Show my little boys who you are and how they need You. And show me how to gently lead them. Draw them in the way you drew me. Speak to them and let them hear your voice. Meet them, Abba.
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.