We’ve never been home school parents before. Ever since they were kindergartners, our kids have gone to public school. This is not a choice of conviction on our part; it was just a choice that made sense for our family dynamic. Not only are our kids public school kids, but my wife is a public school teacher. And this is how we have lived for over a decade now, in a life rhythm created by the school days and sessions.
But not any more. Now, like everyone else, we are home school parents whether we intended to be or not. And as home school parents, we are also teachers. To be fair, the lovely Jana Kelley is doing most of the teaching, and like many of you, she is watching videos, preparing lessons, and keeping to a schedule at home.
We all are not just parents any more; we are teachers. But even as we are teaching our children during this time of quarantine, perhaps we also have an opportunity to learn from them as well. Perhaps by observing how they are responding during this time, we can become a little more educated ourselves – not in math and science (although honestly, we are having to brush up on that as well) – but about faith.
Jesus, after all, told us that “whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 13:15). Our kids have some things to teach us about faith. And perhaps quarantine is the perfect time for us, as parents, to learn.
As we get older, our faith tends to get more complicated. Perhaps that’s because we have seen too much of the world, been hurt by too many people, or have been burdened with too many concerns. Whatever the reason, we have the tendency to look at the teaching of the Bible as somewhat naive, always finding an exception as to why things are not as simple as the Bible seems to make them out to be.
We can learn from our kids in this. For kids, things are blissfully simple. Yes, we are in quarantine. Yes, there is a dangerous disease in the world. But most of our children are still able to have the luxury of a limited vision, one in which they know they have enough food for today. Are safe for today. Are occupied for today. And we can learn from that kind of simplicity. It’s the kind of simplicity that remind us that no matter what else happens, it doesn’t change the simple truth that Jesus loves me, this I know – for the Bible tells me so. This is the kind of simplicity of faith we can learn from our children.
There is a beautiful sort of wonder that comes along with being a child. As a kid, you wonder why the sky is blue, how a car works, and how buildings can be made so tall. Imagine (or remember) seeing an ostrich for the very first time. Or walking through the gates of the Magic Kingdom. Or discovering that Darth Vader is Luke Skywalker’s father. There is wonder there. Discovery. An amazing kind of “everything is the most awesome-ness” that we lose as adults. Interestingly, I think some of this is resurfacing for our children as they are less and less driven by activities and are forced to slow down. To be outside. To think and laugh and enjoy and be content. Surely we can learn from that.
Surely we can learn from the way children seem to naturally find such wonder at the smallest things. I, and I think we, need a more wondrous faith. When was the last time I truly stood amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene? And when was the last time I wondered at the fact that He loves me, a sinner condemned unclean?
There is something very unique about the way a child – especially a young child – looks at their mom or dad. As the mom or dad who is receiving that gaze, you feel invincible because to your child, that’s exactly what you are. Daddy is the strongest. Mommy is the most loving. They will always protect me, always provide for me, always come and get me when I need them. I know, I know – that look starts to go away when your kids get older because they realize that you aren’t invincible. You’re a sinner, just like they are, and you will inevitably fail them just as I have and will. But even more so now, children seem to be looking with confidence at their parents because they genuinely think we know what we’re doing.
And yet there is something we can learn about the object of faith from that gaze. Every time we fail as parents it’s an opportunity to remember that our true Father never will. Every time we come up short in providing for and doing what’s best for them we can remind ourselves that God never does. Every example of our own finite intellect, power, and wisdom is an opportunity to refocus our own gaze on the perfect Father. We would do well to gaze more often into heaven with an even greater sort of confidence than our kids once had in us because God has sealed His commitment to us at the cross and shown His resolve and power through the resurrection.
Yes, Lord, may it be so – may it be that we not only pay lip service to your words that we must enter in with faith like that of children – may we seek to develop that kind of faith we see exemplified in their characteristics right now.