Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Preparing the soil of our children's hearts to recieve God's Word part 1- Tilling their hearts

BigD after working in his garden.
Today I read the parable of the soils in Luke 8 (also in Mark 4 and Mathew 13) and thought it a wonderful reminder of what we can do to prepare our children's hearts to receive God's Word. It's true we cannot guarantee our children will place their faith in Christ and be saved, but I think according to this passage, there is much we can do.

"Some fell along the path..." Mark 4:4 "Some fell on rock..." Luke 8:6

The path where everyone walked was trampled often so it became packed down, too hard for seed to take root. The same goes for the rock.

We must try to keep our children's hearts soft and sensitive so that God's Word can take root and grow there.

My husband is gearing up for planting his garden in a few weeks and today he spent a couple of hours tilling up the soil and spreading his carefully conserved compost pile to make the soil loose and rich in minerals. He has to do this because we live in West Texas and NOTHING would grow if he didn't carefully prepare his soil.

How can we till the soil of our children's hearts?

Maybe the easiest way of looking at this is by seeing the contrast to the pharisees who were condemned for having hardened hearts. What made their hearts hard so that they could not recieve the Word? Pride, self-righteousness, legalism? Then we want to cultivate humility, compassion, and mercy in our children. Was their conscience seared? Then we want to help our children to keep a clear conscience. Were they liars, deceiving even themselves? Then we want to help our children establish the habit of honesty.

The blades of my husbands tiller are sharp and it's hard work tilling up the clay in the spot where he wants his vegetables to take root. It takes a lot of sweat and toil. Parenting can't be done in sound bites or status updates. It's laborious and time intensive. The soil of their hearts must be turned over and over and over again.

My husband also spends all year building his nutrient-rich compost pile to help soften and enrich the soil.

How can we soften and enrich our children's hearts?

By preventing bitterness, cultivating loving hearts, helping them to be sensitive to others. By modeling forgiveness for them and helping them to forgive others. By showing them grace as well as discipline.

Have you noticed this almost seems like a conundrum? We can help our children to be receptive to the Word of God if we teach them to obey God's Word. There's a head scratcher! Help them to believe the Word by training them to obey it. For obedience to God's commands cultivates tender hearts, while disobedience leads to hardened hearts.

So the first principle is simply to saturate our children with the Word of God. Read it to them, help them memorize it, explain it to them, and most importantly live it out in front of them. (Sounds a lot like Deuteronomy 6 doesn't it?) And notice also that our time with our children in the Scriptures is both the act of planting and at the same time aids in softening their hearts to receive the Word.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

But sowing the seeds and preparing the soil isn't enough. In part 2 I'll examine the importance of watering the seeds we plant.

1 comment:

  1. This is so great! I really feel I am just discovering this these past 2 years. More and more every day do I see the importance of Scripture on my everyday parenting. My friend helped me to make a child training Bible, and it is working fantastically. (is that a word?)
    Great Job Celee! You really wrote that sooo clear to understand and apply.



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.