This is the second part in my planning series, Reflections on Relationship. You can read the introduction to the series here.
There are many ways that we can help our children to cultivate a relationship with God. Here are a few of the ideas that I have been thinking about.
This is perhaps the most essential, because ultimately I can't force my children to grow in their relationship with God. I can introduce them to Him and point them in the right direction, but ultimately the Holy Spirit must work in their lives for them to grow. Anything else I do must be rooted in prayer and done in cooperation with Him. (This point was underscored in a big way by all of the speakers at this past weekend's Ambleside Online At Home retreat. More on that coming soon.)
Attend to my own Spiritual Vitality
It has been said that "Faith can be caught, not taught." Besides prayer, one of the most important things I can do for my children and students is cultivate my own relationship with God. As my own love for Him increases, it will spill over to those around me. I have let attending to my own relationship with God slide in the craziness of recent years, so I am trying to remedy that. Some of the ways that I am doing this:
- Corporate Worship: We recently started attending an Anglican church. Among other things about the structure of the liturgy, I really appreciate that Communion is served weekly as an essential part of the service. It is a weekly reminder to me of the glorious work of grace that Jesus has and is working in my life which helps me to reorient myself away from me and back towards Him. I don't know about you, but I need that reminder often! The teaching is also very good in this church – this series on 'Releasing the Grace and Power of the Vine' has been particularly helpful to me as I have considered this idea of enriching my relationship with God.
- Counseling: We returned from Africa very weary, and in my case that has been largely because I have gotten far too good at putting on my 'I'm okay' face while pushing issues that I need to deal with out of the way. This only works for so long, however, and now has caught up with me. So I am working toward sorting all these neglected issues out - unpacking my baggage if you will - so that I can move forward as a healthier person.
- Renewed Commitment to Daily Prayer, Scripture Reading, and other Spiritual Reading: I have typically tried to do this in the early hours of the morning, but as any mother probably knows, it doesn't always work out that tidily and all too often gets skipped. I am purposing this year to attend to this time of reading and prayer before any other reading I do. If it gets missed in the morning, I will do it later in the day, before reaching for a novel or book discussion title.
Cindy Rollins talks about morning time as a liturgy of sorts. She is not the only person who has written or spoken about this idea over the past couple of years. So I have been considering how to apply this idea in our home. We have typically closed our day with a family time of hymns, Scripture reading, and prayer. However, it has been awhile since we opened our day in the Word. We used to do this at breakfast, but as my children have gotten older their rising times have changed and this routine no longer works well for us. I have floundered around trying to figure out where to make it fit. This year I am going to make a point to start our school day with Morning Time (we've done it as a mid-morning break in the past), and start our Morning Time with a time of Bible reading, Psalm singing, and prayer. We will continue to close the day with our evening family devotional, hymn singing, and prayer as we always have in an effort to develop the kind of rhythm that Cindy and others speak of.
The Christ-Centered Curriculum
Ultimately, the knowledge of God is the leading edge of the curriculum as a whole, not just the parts that are specifically focused on the Bible or hymn singing or prayer. Jack Beckman explains it this way in When Children Love to Learn:
"Therefore Miss Mason places the knowledge of God on the leading edge of her curriculum, with the knowledge of man and the universe following in order. God has revealed Himself, His being and purposes, through the pages of living Scripture, which has its focus and meaning in the life and work of Jesus Christ. Because of this starting point, we must infer that all of life has a theological or religious base. A purpose of education begins to emerge, that of developing an understanding of God and His created reality and to use that understanding in exercising a creative-redemptive dominion over the creation in which we live. The child is not passive in His education; he experiences, understands, and acts upon that understanding in ways that show the image of God in him – creating, exploring, making choices, building relationships." (p.118)
Andrew Kern explores this idea in detail as well in his lecture on the Christ-Centered Curriculum. Ultimately all topics we study and skills we learn can point us back towards Him and help us better understand who He is and reflect Him to the world around us. (I wrote about this before here and here.)
How do you hope to enrich your and your students' relationship with God in the coming year?