Time and time again I have heard the scripture, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”( Matthew 19:14 NIV). Now, hearing that and being raised in the church I have never thought I’d ever violated that scripture. After all, I read the bible with my children, take them to church consistently. I monitor the content surrounding them and teach them about Christ (or so I thought). Needless to say, when I heard this scripture, my first thoughts were always “glad that’s not me”. Yes, I can sometimes have boastful thoughts and this was my mindset since the birth of my first child Journee Johnson on August 20th, 2010. Ironically through her, I found the error in my ways.
This wasn’t a regular Wednesday
So today was a regular Wednesday like any other, so I thought. I got my daughters up, prepared breakfast after they did chores and then they proceeded to get their daily home school work done. Now, this week, I can say I have been on a different kick. I have recently been reading “A praying life” by Paul E. Miller and my communication with God has been more open than ever. Which now means, I can hear and see him in almost every situation. So my eldest daughter Journee and middle daughter Jourdan were playing and like most times one child got too excited and hurt the other. Journee my oldest got so excited, she threw a book and hit the middle child.
A humble change in perspective
This time I was praying while it happened, so my response was anything but my usual. I decided the ask my eldest daughter what happened. I had opened with “Be honest, you aren’t in trouble, let’s just work through this so it doesn’t happen again”. My daughter began to explain what happened and told me she was not angry just excited. The thing that stood out the most was her demeanor. She would not make eye contact with me consistently. Her hands were fidgeting and she was rocking nervously. At that moment, I saw myself as a child. My dad was very big and strong with a deep voice. So I was very intimidated by him. I was often afraid to ask things of him because of how I felt and how strong he looked. Today he is the nicest man I know, but as a child, he looked like the incredible hulk. The one from the first “Avengers”, not “End Game”. If you have seen the movie you’ll get the reference.
You might ask, what does this have to do with children being kept from God? That’s a simple answer, let me explain. At that moment when saw myself in her shoes, I also saw how the view of my father was impacting my view of God. I had been working on my prayer life because something was broken with it and I knew it. I prayed to God because he intimidated me and not because I loved him. I obeyed him to avoid being punished and not because I reverenced him. I prayed because I knew I was supposed to and not because I wanted to know him. These were all things I had been taught at a young age subconsciously and was currently learning to rewire.
God revealed to me that I am teaching my children how to pray to him by how I converse with them. I am the first part of God they will see. It is my responsibility to paint the right picture and for so long I had not been doing that. How I respond to their mistakes and flaws will teach them about Gods grace. How I discipline them will reflect Gods love and mercy. How I respond to them when they make a request will determine their level of faith. As the head of the house and a parent to my children, I am to show them who God is, so when the grow to know Him for themselves, they would have felt Him through my spirit, words, and prayer. I told my wife three days ago, “I want our daughters to say when they get older that their father loved them but loved God more and they knew it through his actions and words”. I am certainly not God and nor do I claim to be. However, I am His representative and should reflect His love, care, grace, and mercy. We as Christian parents are teaching our children more about God than we know.
When we take the best parts of Gods love and show it to our children differently than he showed us, we are keeping them from knowing him and hindering them. I will not hinder my children any longer and neither should you. Change the path of the next generation by what you do today.