My kids were buzzing with chatter, smiles and wonder. We were leaving the Ode to Joy Finale (too early…bedtimes), having watched fireworks that seemed to go on delightfully longer than any of us imagined. They and their cohort had wandered in wonder at the food, the people and the visual promise of the fun to be had in the hospitable Smith home. They had piled into the back of pickup trucks to watch the sky explode in light and color. They had heard the adults of their church cracking good natured jokes, and they had breathed air full of joy and laughter. And it just struck me again: We are so blessed! My kids are so blessed. My kids get to grow up in church. My kids get to grow up in a healthy church. My kids get to grow up in a church that does a pretty good job of celebration.
My kids love Winter Delight: riding in sleds behind a skidoo that whips around a beautiful acreage; skating or exploring or hanging in a clubhouse with other kids their age; entering into a house that has delectable food in every room. All the while, they are surrounded by men and women whom God is growing as people of character and love; grace and truth. They eat and play in the midst of men and women who love God and who will demonstrate to them God’s love for us.
My kids love Marshmallow World. They explore the church camp that they continue to love. Somehow it never gets old for them to jump off the horse-drawn sleigh in motion so that they can chase it through the snow to jump on again. They receive the instruction of experience and the grace of forbearance from the more stationary grown-ups, riding along in the sleigh with them. They benefit from the Christian men and women who recognize that our children are gifts of God. They belong to Him. Without knowing it, they are being shaped by adults who care about their parents and love to nurture the Spirit of God in each other.
My kids don’t know a life that doesn’t include the church. They only know of Sunday mornings where they are included in congregations singing God-praising lyrics to fun and interesting music. They only know of being prayed over each Sunday by a congregation that longs to see Christ formed in them. They only know of children’s programming that invites them to interact with the truth and implications coming out of the stories of God’s love and purpose that they hear each night at home. They love that most weeks there are cookies available after church. They take for granted the adults who take an interest in them, ask them questions, and genuinely enjoy who they are becoming.
See, my kids ask me about those songs sometimes. My kids want to hear those songs again. My kids can tell me the Bible stories that engaged them that morning. And they don’t know it yet, but they are being blessed week after week by men and women who choose to invest in them because those men and women love Jesus. Those men and women believe that they are called to be a part of God’s ongoing development of His story, His people. And the more my kids take the opportunities to join the after-service conversations, the more they will taste the Spirit of God in the men and women he has placed in their lives. I know that as they grow up, they will need faithful people beyond their parents. God has provided for them already.
My kids are so blessed. Of course they don’t know it yet. How could they? It’s just the reality of their lives. They don’t know anything else. For that I give thanks to God.