My goal is to study my Bible almost every day. Usually I do pretty good at it. Other times I don’t get around to it. When I don’t read even just a small passage and pray just a little bit in the morning, my whole day feels off and not right or complete. It’s something I’ve been doing for years. When my son was an infant (oh, maybe 6 months old or so) I used to prop him up on my lap and read to him, talk to him a little bit about what I read, and then pray a short prayer. He remembers none of it. But I do. Sometime down the road (I don’t know when) I stopped doing that.
When my son was around 2 1/2-3 years-old, I was teaching a class on the Gospel of Mark at church. I’d arrive early with my laptop and notes, hook my lap top up to the projector for the Power Point portion of the class, and test it out. My son would tag along. He’d ask me questions (the best that a toddler could) about what I was teaching on. I’d take time to explain it to him the best that I could. After I stopped teaching the class, that ritual stopped happening.
Fast forward a number of years later. My son is now 8 almost 9. For the last year, after each Sunday morning worship service, I ask him what the message that morning was about. Usually he nails it on the head. Other times he’s a bit off. We also ask him about what he learned in Sunday school. He’s pretty good at reporting on that.
But I hadn’t been sitting down with him like I did when he was 6 months old and reading the Bible with him. For Christmas last year, we bought him an NIV Adventure Bible, which is what they were using in his class. He faithfully brings it to church and even places the message outlines in it.
So, as school started last week for him and we all had to get up early (even earlier now because he’s wanting to ride his bike to school and I’m walking my daughter there as well), I figured I’d start reading the Bible with him. We started in Mark (it’s my favorite gospel and also there’s found memories of us talking about it when he was a toddler). The first few days he was excited about it. He’d read a few passages, stumble over a few words, and then hand the rest of the passage to me as he read along.
The last two days, he’s been more interested in drawing first thing in the morning than reading the Bible. This morning I asked him to grab his Bible so we can read this morning’s passage. He looked at me with his big eyes and said “Do we have to?” It stung a bit, I’ll tell you the truth. Then he stomped over to where the Bible was at with a defeated “fine!” and brought it over to me.
I walked up to him, gave him a hug, looked him in the eye and asked “What’s up?” He looked up at me and said “I just want to draw.”
I had to pause. Reading the Bible and praying first thing in the morning is so important to me. It’s part of my day. It’s how I start up each day. I so want to pass this love on to him as well. Faith formation is so important to me, so much so I struggle with even which Star Wars movie to show him in hopes of building him up in the faith. It is so important to me, but I don’t want to pressure him. I don’t want him to feel the pressure to do it and eventually dislike it. I want him to love it as I do, to crave reading God’s word as I do, to have the thirst to drink it in as much as possible.
I stand back and watch him grow in his faith. I stand back and watch him learn on his own, through school, and listening in church and Sunday school. He loves to talk about God. He loves to talk about his favorite stories of the Bible. In fact, his favorite story in the Bible is Jesus dying on the cross. When I asked my son why that is, he answered very seriously “So we can be forgiven.”
I don’t want to pressure him, yet at the same time I want to guide him and lead him in his faith formation. I want to help him learn to be a disciple of Jesus. It’s a fine balance for sure. I’m doing my best to walk the balance, not pushing too hard but at the same time, trying to encourage, walk with, and help guide him along the way. It’s hard.