Traveling Lessons

I want to thank Harold Camping.

Not because I think the May 21st-end-of-the-world pastor offered much useful information to end times conversations, but because he got people talking. Personally, all the hubbub spurred me to have the “S” talk with my kids.

Not that “S” talk. The other one—salvation.

On separate occasions, I talked one-on-one with my 16-year-daughter and 13-year-old son and asked: “If the world ended today, would you go to heaven?”

Both answered, “I don’t know.”

I followed up with, “What do you think you need to do to get into heaven?”

Their responses ranged from “I’m not sure” to “go to church and be a good person” to “believe in God.” Neither of them mentioned Jesus.

Their answers surprised and saddened me, since my kids have grown up going to church, Christian preschool, Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. Back then they were willing and eager faith participants with whom I’d sing Bible songs and teach simple lessons about God.

But as they headed into adolescence, these interactions became fewer. They became less willing to participate in faith conversations so I kept quiet, not wanting to force the issue and push them away. Besides, my husband and I were doing all the “right” things as Christian parents. Our kids go to church every Sunday, participate in youth group and go on mission trips. They see Dan and me leading and attending Bible studies, being involved in prison ministry, and listening to Christian music. We even eat at Chick-fil-A regularly!

But when it came to spiritual teaching, I became a “bring-er” and a “drop off-er,” trusting that youth leaders and teachers would get the job done. And I thought that leading by example would be enough. Sitting at the kitchen table talking with my kids about faith and salvation showed me it hasn’t been enough. While my kids know ABOUT Jesus, they don’t KNOW Him.

Wisdom says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6, NIV) I believe “the way they should go” is to Jesus, and that knowing Him is the most important thing to discover in life. Therefore, isn’t my most important job as a parent to guide my son and daughter to this discovery and nurture them on their journey?

I am well aware that faith is a personal choice and my children will eventually make their own decisions about Jesus. Certainly seeds have been planted but I want to hedge my bets that they’ll take root and flourish. I want to transition their Sunday School faith to one that can withstand doubt, cynicism, intellect, relativism and all the other –isms that adulthood brings. I want them to rise above the statistics that say over 60% of young adults who attended church in their teens are now “spiritually disengaged” (i.e. not at all involved in church). And I want to introduce them to the Savior I know—the One who offers grace unconditionally and promises life abundantly, eternally.

I confess I don’t have a clear road map on exactly what to do next, but God has filled me with an urgency to be proactive in the spiritual nurturing of my children. To keep the conversations going. To share openly about my own faith struggles. To pray with them. To give them real answers to their tough questions.

I pray for courage to persevere and trust in Jesus’ words: “But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.” (Luke 21:14-15)

The other day my already-resistant son asked, “Mom, why are you doing this?”

I replied, “Because I love you. When the end does come I want to make sure we’ll be in heaven together. And I want you to know for yourself how awesome it is to know Jesus.”

The end times will come when God decides. All we can do is get ready for the journey.

Kelli Regan

I’m an ordinary girl in love with an awesome God. In my quest for adventure outside the everyday I've experienced God in remarkable ways…and in remarkable places. Together we’ve trekked inside the walls of a maximum security men’s prison, to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, into post-earthquake Haiti, into the hearts of beautiful brothers and sisters in Christ and so much more. God’s blessed me with my lifetime traveling companion, my husband Dan, and our two children, aka adventurers-in-training. I share insights into my adventures both big and small. I hope they shine the light of God's awesomeness into your life and spark a desire to venture into life outside the ordinary.

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6 Comments

  1. Kelli you read my mind. I had a conversation with my older son getting ready to go to college and I was talking to him about his faith and don’t lose it just because you are not going to be home. His response floored me. He said he doesn’t know much about Jesus. I almost fell off my chair. Same as you we go to church he attends youth group. He attended bible school. I felt like I let him and Jesus down. I have 5 days left with him. I thought the same as you he sees how much I am involved and I go to bible studies. I pray that he finds a group at school and continues learning and growing in his faith. He has taught me a lesson for sure. I should have been the one reading the bible with him and having more conversations about faith. Thank you for your article somehow like I said before it’s like your talking to me personally in your articles. You are an amazing writer.

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  2. Great conversation Kelli — and as I know your kids and your church — don’t be so hard on yourself. Absolutely keep doing what you’re doing, keep talking (even when they don’t want to talk!), but know that a lot of spiritual maturity does come in these next few years (last few years of HS), particularly at Woodside. Its good that kids hear the good news from many different sources and get a chance to live their faith, like your kids already do. The seeds are there — continue to strengthen the roots and surround them with people and opportunities for them to be fed and strengthened!!

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  3. Kelli…

    The cry of my heart over the past several years (at least as it pertains to the limited parenting advice I’m willing to give to others) is to “speak your faith to your children.” Even when it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient. Speak it, speak it, speak it. Never apologize for doing so.

    Modeling faith is great, but it’s not enough. WORDS MUST COME OUT OF OUR MOUTHS! I’ve never regretted those occasions when I’ve given my faith to my kids via conversation. I do regret, however, all those times when I’ve bypassed the dialogue. We should never let our children “guess” about our faith. It may seem like we’re beating them down with it now, but it will reap huge dividends in the years to come.

    I promise.

    You’re doing great!

    peace~elaine

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  4. Kelli, am praying right now that your kids will make their head knowledge about Jesus heart knowledge and give their hearts and lives to Him.

    Blessings to you!

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  5. 60% sounds right to me. I raised three children and only one of them is still active in church – not that church activity equals faith, but the other two don’t even want to talk about God or Jesus. I pray that they will return to the Lord who died for them someday, and my dear husband will, too.

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  6. I didn’t realize about the “end-time” preacher prediction – but I wrote a post about my conversation with my son about it, sparked by a political election of all things. God always provides an opening in a conversation at just the right time. Your post is so right! Without the bible being taught in the school (which is the whole reason public schools were created – was to teach people to read so they could read their bibles) – it is even more imperative we teach as we come and go!
    http://bluecottonmemory.wordpress.com/2011/05/17/and-the-knight-pledges-his-life-to-his-lord/

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