You know what they say, the family that worships together grows together. There’s nothing that makes a dad prouder, than getting to see his kid grow right before his very eyes. This morning I woke up with the song, you’re a good, good father still ringing in my ear. Last night we attended our church’s quarterly Night of Worship service and this was the ending song for the concert. It was a refreshing experience to pause mid-week as a family, in the midst of a hectic week and simply enjoy an evening of praise and thanksgiving together. It was also a life changing experience for one of my daughters.
Last night we got to experience the result of this growth firsthand with our oldest daughter, Riley. One day when she’s an adult she’ll have her own account of the importance of this evening, but for now I get to share the story from the perspective of a father witnessing his child mature right before his eyes.
We arrive home after the concert and I notice that she’s crying. Thinking that since it’s late and she’s tired, I don’t really pay her any attention besides to quickly comfort her and get her into bed. Meanwhile I scurry off to put one of my other daughters to bed. As I’m tucking Olivia in, through the open door I hear Riley and her mother talking. Curious, I walk into her room to witness what they’re discussing and I overhear my wife, Samantha leading Riley in a prayer to accept Jesus into her heart. Afterwards, I learn that Riley shared that she was just so touched (her words, I felt so happy listening to the music tonight) that she wanted to do something about this new feeling. So they had a discussion about what made her happy, and what led to her believing.
To fully understand how this story unfolds you have to appreciate a few things about our daughter. Riley is pensive, loves to read and write, asks a lot of questions, and feels deeply. She can be surprisingly emotional as a child, but it’s simply because she takes everything in and allows herself to fully experience the moment.
As her parents we’ve been intentional about exposing her to experiences that will shape her belief and value system. While we didn’t walk in thinking, maybe our daughter will formally decide to express her belief in Jesus tonight, attending the Night of Worship concert is certainly a part of a broader strategy of sharing our faith with our kids so they understand what and why we believe. The choice afterwards is theirs.
This is the same young lady who each Sunday comes home from children’s church with ideas, questions, and thoughts about her lesson. The same young lady who asked for us to attend our church sponsored conversation called Jumpstart for young kids and their parents, to help families engage in Q&A together about why we believe what we believe. The same young lady who hates to miss a Sunday service, and who reminds us of the theme of the month that we’re studying as a family. It was likely only a matter of time before she made the decision that you know what, I’ve seen and experienced enough evidence to believe that there’s something worth believing with this faith thing.
What I’m most proud of though, is that even as I know this will likely be a decision for her that she revisits and interrogates and fully owns as she grows and matures, it’s a starting point right now. I’m beyond thankful for a church family that makes it our mission to support families in raising children who can pursue their own personal relationship with God. Growing up in the church myself, I know that this experience can go a different way. Children can easily be turned off from the faith of their parents if they feel it’s forced or worse, inauthentic. That’s why we try to live this out everyday in front of our kids, and we’re glad to attend a church (Buckhead Church) where they truly enjoy their faith experience and want to explore and learn more.
At the end of the day though, a good lesson every parent should learn early on is that parenting isn’t about making your kids decisions for them. The purpose of parenting is to be intentional about building their own decision-making ability, so that they choose well as they grow older. We may not always see the immediate fruits of our parenting labors, but God knows, and he’s always working to make things well. Grateful this morning for a good, good father, helping us to raise our kids.