“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, ESV, Read John 15:1-11)
As mothers (or other important women role models), sometimes our task of spiritual instruction seems insurmountable. How do I teach my children everything they need to know about God, and His Word? And, how do I take head knowledge and transfer it to the heart? Over the years, I have felt overwhelmed with these questions at times. And I’m sure I’m not alone. Keeping in mind these three things while instructing my children has helped greatly:
- I am not God (which highlights the obvious reality of my imperfection).
- My children have to develop their own walk.
- God has entrusted me to set the example, facilitate, and guide.
By abiding in Christ, I can keep those three points at the forefront of my mind.
I am not God
Abiding in Christ reminds me that I need Him; apart from Him I can have no spiritual fruit. I am an imperfect person in desperate need of Christ! I have to remember that as such, I can never teach God’s perfect Word perfectly or completely. The Bible is inexhaustible, and I am still learning! It is unrealistic for me to think that my children could ever learn His Word as perfectly as I’d like. So, I remember that I am not God. I remember that as I give them rich and plentiful opportunities to read, soak in, and study God’s perfect word, He will bless His perfect word in their hearts to grow the fruit He wants, and shape them (as His little branch) just as He sees fit (John 15:2b). I must fully trust Him to use His Word in their lives.
My Children Must Develop Their Own Walk
When I abide, I’m more likely to see growth. Just as a baby must learn to take his first, staggering, steps and even fall many times, or a baby bird must stretch its tiny wings and flutter along, my children must do the same spiritually. I have done this, and I’m sure you have, too. Of course I want to protect them from unnecessary pain, so I should take precautions to do just that. However, I must also be prepared to let them test their own wings and practice their own faith. This will look different at times. From the five year old who rushes through prayer to hurry and eat, then feels dissatisfied or embarrassed, to the teenager who is pained by a peer’s ungodly actions only to realize she’s done similarly, to the young adult who can’t find time for daily devotions only to realize they feel “dry”, or to the mother who thought she’d finished struggling only to fall, dust her hands, and rise again– God is still growing and developing each walk.
Guiding and Abiding
I set the example. I must abide in Christ, hide in His word, spend time with Him in prayer, and be enthusiastic about my love and desire for Him above all else this world has to offer. I must further my private relationship with Christ, yet provide glimpses into that time with God for my children to see. I’m often on the quest to provide opportunities for my children to join me in reading, study, prayer, and praise. Do your children “catch you” often in prayer, reading the Bible, journaling your spiritual thoughts, memorizing or reciting Scripture, singing praises, or being a witness? Do you get excited over something you’ve learned or something God’s doing and you can’t wait to share it with your kids or with others in their hearing? These are great ways to guide your children by abiding in Christ! I’ve learned that if my heart is right and sincere, my children will be blessed and hopefully will rise up and call me blessed someday. Wouldn’t that be a lovely inadvertent consequence of wholeheartedly pursuing your children’s spiritual instruction?
So, dear overwhelmed mother, take heart! Don’t feel overburdened by your task. Come to Jesus for His easy yoke (Matthew 11:30) and then abide. Stay. Remain in Him and let Him bear fruit in your life. Out of your overflow, lead your children to follow in your footsteps and then watch what our awesome, loving, precious God does. In the meantime, let your children see Mommy abide.
Alison Shaw can’t believe how blessed her life is! Wife of 20 years to her awesome, supportive soul mate, and momma to three beautiful daughters aged 19, 14, and 5, she’s learning to serve her Precious Lord more and more, day by day. You can catch her blogging at Heartfelt Reflections and see the latest of what God’s been teaching her!