The following is an excerpt from Pouring In, Tipping the Scales in Favor of a Personal, Passionate, and Permanent Faith in Your Kids.
When Jessica was about nine, she was holding our cat, Essie. Essie was squirming in her arms, and quietly let out a warning growl. I was cleaning the kitchen while listening to a podcast so I was only mildly paying attention to what was going on.
She has an attitude problem. Not my daughter, the cat. Essie can look at you from across the room and you know what she is thinking—I am going to kill you in your sleep! She’s a grumpy old cat. And our very existence annoys her.
I could tell that Essie’s patience was running thin.
“You’d better put her down,” I said. “She’s gonna scratch you!” Essie let out another soft growl. Jessica ignored my warning and continued kissing her and messing with her face.
“I’m serious, she’s gonna blow!” I pleaded one last time.
Then the last growl ramped up. Three strikes you’re out! All the muscles in Essie’s body tensed and her front paws and legs began to flail violently. The next five seconds were a mess of fur, claws, and growls. Essie swiped at Jessica’s chest and face as her body twisted to get free. Jessica screamed in pain as Essie freed herself and leapt out of her arms landing squarely in the dog’s water bowl.
Jessica stood there with tears in her eyes, blood on her face, chest and arms, and dog slobber water soaking her clothes. It was a sad and pathetic sight. Other than a trail of water on the floor through the foyer, no trace of Essie could be found. But she had left her mark.
As I went to comfort Jessica, I wanted to say, “I told you that was going to happen!” But the words were unnecessary. So I hugged her tight, wiped her tears, and cleaned her up.
Teaching our kids to think beyond the present moment, whether it’s five seconds into the future, five months or five years, is a difficult task. Kids tend to focus on the here and now. They live in the moment.
As followers of Christ, however, we live for eternity. We live for our glorious future in Heaven.
Part of our job as parents is to change the mindset of our kids to an eternal mindset. We encourage a Biblical attitude of focusing on eternity. This means that we must be focused on eternity as well and not be wrapped up in the things of this world. Disciples of Christ are eternity-focused, not culture-focused.
Human beings are eternal, not finite. Our souls live on after our bodies die. Heaven and Hell are real and we all will end up in one or the other someday. This earth will be gone at some point, so we must set our minds on eternity.
Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:2
We must teach our children to think in terms of whether things are temporary and will pass away, or are eternal and will endure. Focusing on the eternal tends to separate easily what is and what is not important in this life.
Our children’s eternal future is the reason passing on our faith is so important.
Beth Moore wrote this eloquently in her Bible study, Entrusted, A Study of 2 Timothy.
What happens now matters then…Every present moment has future implications. This is not about your past. Not just about your present. This is about your future…Because what happens now matters then.[i]
Now I realize that I want to raise my kids to be disciples of Christ more than anything else (we will talk about what this means in Chapter 9). I want them to leave my house with the Great Commission front and center in their lives, and their eternal future on their minds.
[i] Beth Moore, Entrusted: A Study of 2 Timothy (Nashville: Lifeway Press, 2016), 148.