by Laura (Laura and her husband serve the Lord in South Asia. We are keeping her identity discreet for the safety of her and her family.)
One of my earliest memories from childhood is the stillness of my room just before drifting off to sleep. A Sunday School teacher attempted to teach the concept of an infinite God to our wiggling, distracted class. I am confident that she went home in frustration. Nonetheless, the words rolled through my mind that night as I tried to wrap my brain around a God who has no beginning and no end. In childhood, we are awakened to the larger realities. That tiny memory has been etched on my mind for over thirty years now. It was the birth of awe in me toward a mighty, holy God.
My boys are in a similar stage. They love to ask questions like where does God live, does he have a nose, and is heaven in the clouds beyond the airplanes? As mothers, we have the unique opportunity to stir up the awe of God in our child’s heart. A beautiful place to begin is with the picture of worship that we are given in Revelation. We are told that men from every tribe, tongue, and nation under heaven will gather around the throne to praise God. The nations are written on every page of this beautiful redemption story that we are teaching our children day after day.
I distinctly remember the first time someone suggested that we might not speak English in heaven. I was flabbergasted. The thought had simply never crossed my mind. If your little people are like mine, their concepts are formed largely by their experience. Translated in their minds, worship in heaven probably looks like your church’s choir or praise band. It’s possible for us to undermine the gospel by silently teaching our children that heaven will look like a glorified version of our own suburb.
Work to make your home a place where the vision of God’s glory extends beyond your corner of the world. It is easy, in a season that can feel isolating, to forget the bigger picture. God is glorious enough to evoke the praise of every nation. His gospel truly is for the whole world.
Pull the globe down off your shelf. Spin it around with your little one and pray over a country in which you might never set foot. Pick up your smart phone and find a picture of their national dress. Nurture that little mind to think outside of your walls. Together, imagine people in a different land living their lives.
Turn into the parking lot of an international food store, instead of Target, next time you just need an excuse to leave your house. Browse the exotic fruits and try something new as an adventure together. Talk about the people who eat that fruit every day and ponder what it will be like to worship with them in heaven.
When you’re at the park and your instinct is to sit on the bench next to the woman you look most like, choose to sit down beside the woman whose differences make you feel nervous. Choose the head scarf, the heavy accent, or the skin with a different shade of beautiful. Look past the outside and remind yourself that those eyes are a window to a soul. Let your little one see you smile.
Brook the awkwardness, push through the misunderstandings, and find a friend who doesn’t look like you, talk like you, or worship like you. It will be worth the effort. On the other side, you just might find that heaven, the true version, grows a little nearer to your child’s heart as well.
“Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” (Psalm 67:3, ESV)
*How do you work to expand your child’s horizons about people who are different than your own family? We would love to hear from you in the comment section below!