Once again I want to praise the work of Sunday School teachers, preachers, and parents who make the Bible a focus in their homes. The children in your classes, sitting in your pews, and listening around the kitchen table are "getting it." That was clear to Steve and me again last week when 11 of our grandchildren stayed 7 days and 6 nights with us.
These were the same 11 children who were with us for 2 previous years, so instead of putting up our usual Rules Chart, I decided to focus on positive character traits.
Each night at our wrap-up-the-day-before-bedtime ritual, I picked out several of these traits and asked them to think of people in the Bible who had exemplified that trait. Just in case they were stumped, I planned some ideas of my own, but I never had to use MY ideas. They immediately chimed in. Some were thought-provoking. Others made us chuckle.
Creative? Adam thinking of all those animal names. David writing all those Psalms.
Overcomes adversity? Paul, Joseph, Daniel
Positive leadership? Moses. Joseph.
Good sleeper? Lazarus in the tomb. Jesus in the boat during the storm.
Good eater? The 5000 people Jesus fed. John the Baptist with his honey and locusts. :)
Okay. So some items on the chart were not exactly character traits, but you get the idea. :)
On the last night, Steve called them up one by one and pointed out a positive trait IN PARTICULAR that he had seen in each of them. He could have chosen several for every child, but he chose to focus on one and give them reasons for his choice.
Rosemary -- Grateful. She never failed to say thank you. Rosemary almost always gets recognized for her kindness, too.
Birti -- Helpful. She helped Steve prepare breakfast. She helped tie Silas' shoes. She helped all of the cousins keep up with their belongings.
Margaret -- Creative. She really took her time and put her personality into her pottery piece and her seashell frame. She would happily have directed a show with the group, but time and temperaments weren't in tune for that this year.
Penelope -- Adventurous. Many times Penelope blazes her own path. She's not much of a crowd girl. She describes her opinions and thoughts as "off." I'd call them "out of the box."
Luke -- Generous. He contributed his tech skills to create an awesome summary video of the week. He loaned his cameras to his cousins when we practiced photography at the Botanical Garden. When his shopping partner needed a little more money, Luke reached in his pocket to make up the difference.
Seth -- Overcomer. In the pool one day, he got a nasty hornet sting on his eyelid (or at least something more powerful than a wasp, we believe). The whole side of his face swelled up. He never whimpered or complained.
Silas -- Patient. When the older kids were playing games, he waited his turn and watched. He never jumped in front of the line at mealtimes. And, as a side note, that kid can REALLY run fast! He made a great outfielder during kickball. :)
Samuel -- Energetic. That word wasn't on the chart, but it fit Sam. He was like the Ever-Ready Bunny. Eager. Enthusiastic.
Megan -- Friendly. Steve could have also called her funny. She got along with her cousins both older and younger.
Bethany -- Happy. That girl just seems to enjoy life. She goes at full steam at whatever she does with a bright smile on her face.
Nathan -- Good leadership. He rallied the troops on several occasions and spoke up boldly to the others about having a good attitude and cooperating with Steve and me. We thought he acted older than 15 years of age.
So, my take-aways for this week are these: As teachers, preachers, parents, and grandparents, we should remember that the Word of God we instill in those within earshot is powerful. It penetrates. It produces good fruit. Read Isaiah 55:11 in the Message Bible paraphrase --
God says -- “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree. “For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think. Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, Doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them."
And don't forget these two crucial reminders:
Proverbs 22:6 -- "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it."
Deuteronomy 6:7 -- "You shall teach them (the laws, the truths of God's Word) diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up."