By Lindsey Wingo
I so desire to raise children who love God with all of their hearts and follow Him in all of their ways. But Satan wants me to believe I am fighting a hopeless cause and struggling through a losing battle!
Recently after reading several news stories and scrolling through social media, I felt myself falling into a pit of despair at the thought of the world I am raising my three children in.
As Christian parents, we’ve all been there before. Fear creeps in and Satan’s lies begin to flood our minds.
In that moment I stopped in my tracks and prayed that God would guide my husband and I in parenting our children, giving us His wisdom and strength in the battle. I believe it was no coincidence that on that very day God used the teaching of His Word to remind me of the battle plan He has given parents as we wage the war for the souls of our children.
In Exodus 16 the Israelites had been delivered from slavery and had seen God move in power over their enemies. In this chapter we see them entering the “Wilderness of Sin,” and they began grumbling because they were hungry. God heard their grumbling and complaining and sent for them manna and quail from heaven. In doing this He further established Himself as their provider—the God who saw their needs and met them. Through Moses God instructed the people in this way:
“This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, so that they may see the bread with which I fed you in the wilderness when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’”
As soon as I heard those words it was as if the Holy Spirit said, “this is part of the battle plan for your children as well.” I could have shouted in that moment! After I left that place I knew I wanted to go to God’s Word and read more about what He has to say about passing on faith and truth to the next generation.
1) Remember What God Has Done
There are countless places in the Old Testament that reveal the importance of remembering what God has done in the past and recounting it to future generations. This was done so that they would know and fear the Lord. Just as the Israelites were instructed to place some of the manna in a jar to be kept as a reminder for future generations of God’s provision, so we must diligently remember and recount what God has done for us.
Whenever I am with another believer who tells me a specific way that God has provided for them, answered a prayer on their behalf, or come through for them, my soul is encouraged and my faith is strengthened. This is not by accident! It is part of God’s plan for us as believers.
My children are constantly asking my husband and me to tell them stories. What a perfect opportunity for us as parents to tell the great stories of old found in God’s Word, as well as personal stories of how God has moved in our lives over the years.
I have made a habit of writing down answers to prayers and ways God has come through in my life so that I will not forget. Every time I read back through those pages I am encouraged. But these things are not meant to be kept to myself! These stories can be woven throughout my daily life as I talk with my children. I have a friend who said her family celebrates with ice cream and a party whenever God answers a prayer they have prayed together as a family. They want those times to be special and memorable. These are foundational stones in our children’s lives as they are being built up into spiritual houses—1 Peter 2.
Many times in the Old Testament these times of remembrance were accompanied by rituals, feasts, or physical objects like stones and altars. Children are visual learners. Depending on the age of your children, you can get creative with this as a useful tool in the act of remembrance. It could be a special craft or snack, a celebratory trip to get ice cream, or a physical thing like a rock with a word or two written on it and kept in a place of prominence in your home. Every time your children see that stone, they will remember its meaning and significance for your family.
If you have not intentionally incorporated this practice in your home, take some time to write out ways God has provided for your family just this year. Use that as a conversation starter during family dinner or next time you are in the car together. This can be done in many different ways, but the point is clear. The act of remembering and recounting God’s work in our lives is foundational if we want to pass on our faith to the next generation.
2) Instruct Them In Truth—God’s Word Is Truth
2 Tim. 3:15 says, “You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”
I am amazed at the ability a child has to absorb and remember things they are taught. My two-year-old can name almost every letter in the alphabet simply by looking at the letter on a card or magnet. (All of the credit for that goes to this DVD!) Research tells us the first five years of a child’s life are foundational for their future. These are years of significant brain development. What an opportunity for parents to pour truth into the minds and hearts of their children!
I love the beautiful picture of this we see in the book of Deuteronomy through Moses.
God told Moses:
“‘Summon the people before me, and I will personally instruct them. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live, and they will teach their children to fear me also.’” Deut. 4:10b
Moses instructed the people:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Deut. 6:5-9
When we are faithful to draw near to God and meditate on His instructions found in the Word of God, we will learn to fear the Lord—which is the beginning of wisdom according to the book of Proverbs. And as we do this, God’s Word will become the Truth we build our lives upon. We won’t be able to keep from talking about it with our children!
In Deut. 6 we are challenged to keep the Truth of God’s Word in our own hearts first, and then pass it on to our children by talking about it all throughout the day, as well as writing it out and keeping it ever before us. Our first focus as moms should be to allow God’s Word to become “our life” (Deut. 34:47) and the source of truth we turn to as we face each day. When this happens in us, we will have a genuine faith to offer our children. That is what they need! Truth. Genuine Faith. God Stories.
What are some ways you can begin to incorporate God’s Word in your life and the life of your family? How can you intentionally pass on the truth of God’s Word to your children?
If you aren’t sure where to start, visit our Resource page for some great ideas to help you in this endeavor.
3) Pray And Surrender
In the book of Revelation, we see prayer depicted as incense rising ever before the Lord as a pleasing aroma. My mom has always said that our prayers outlive us. What an amazing thought! We can impact generations to come by the prayers we are diligent to pray today.
James 5:16 says, “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
And Romans 12:12 says, “Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”
And as we pray, we must daily surrender our children into the hands of the One who made them and loves them even more than we do. He is good and He is trustworthy. What if Moses’ mother had not hidden him in the little ark and placed Him in the Nile River to protect Him from Pharoah? What if she had hidden him away in her home rather than relying on God to protect him? Because of her faithfulness to surrender her child to the Lord’s plans for his life, God’s people were rescued and we are still benefitting from the words God used Moses to write recorded for us in the Old Testament.
On the days I feel hopeless raising children in the “Wilderness of Sin” (pun intended!), this is a wonderful reminder to me. Because of what Christ has done and the truth found in His Word, I can rejoice in confident hope for my children! And on the days I face trouble in parenting, it is my job to continue with patience, hope, faithful prayer and surrender.
Ask God to give you a promise from His Word for your children. When He does, (and He will if we seek Him in prayer and His Word!) begin praying it back to Him on their behalf. God led me to a certain verse in my Bible reading for my children just recently, and within a matter of one week, He confirmed that word two more times. God is still speaking, ladies! Draw near to Him and listen. He has a word for you, too.
Moms, we are in a very real battle. But God has given us a battle plan, and He promises he will never leave our side. (Heb. 13:5, Ps. 118:6, Is. 41:13, Ps. 37:23-24)
Remember what God has done.
Instruct them in truth—God’s Word is Truth (John 17:17).
Pray and surrender.
The God of Angel Armies is with us. May we not fear. And may we see the salvation of the Lord on behalf of our children, and our children’s children.
Lindsey Wingo is the founder and editor of the Missional Motherhood blog. She is the wife of Worship Pastor, Ryan Wingo, and stay-at-home mother of three sweet kiddos—Ivey, Ruthie, and Charlie. It is her prayer and vision that Missional Motherhood would unite mothers from around the globe with the common purpose of raising up a mighty generation of Christ-followers in an increasingly dark world. Lindsey loves to connect with other women and to study and teach God's Word. She also enjoys coffee and chocolate (YUM), sewing, game nights with her family, days on the lake or at the beach, and her current idea of the perfect date night is cuddling in the bed with her hubby while watching one of Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover DVDs! (That is, if a night at the Cinebistro is out of the question...) She is an imperfect mother who has to continually remind herself of the hope found in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
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