Nearly every morning on my way to work, I pass a scene that makes me smile every single time. As I come around a bend, I see a man wearing a brown trench coat, usually a hat and scarf, steaming coffee in one hand making his way down the street. In his other hand is the gloved hand of his young son, his backpack bobbing up and down as he walks fast to keep up with Dad and his head looking up at his father, mouth moving a mile a minute, obviously regaling his dad with the grandest of stories. His dad alternates between sipping his coffee and listening to his son, all while never letting loose of that tiny hand in his.
Every single day they follow this routine. Once I was late to work (okay, fine, I’ve been late to work more than once) and on this day, I caught the dad on his way back from dropping off his son at school. In his hand now was a cell phone, the drained coffee mug dangling from the other, and his steps quick and accurate as he headed back to his car and conceivably off to work.
I cannot help but think of Deuteronomy 6:4-9
4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on 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. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
What a precious gift we are given as parents/caregivers of the next generation! We are given the awesome privilege of introducing our children to God.
“But”, I hear parents say, “My kids don’t want to listen to me talk about God. They want to play video games and hang out with their friends and watch TV and play with their toys. I’m boring. I’m just the one who tells them what they aren’t allowed to do.”
Ah, my friends, you could not be farther from the truth. YOU, yes you, are your child’s hero. Just as that little boy cannot tear his eyes away from his dad on that quick walk to school, your children cannot tear their eyes away from you. They are watching what you do when you sit at home. They are listening to what you say as you walk (or drive or ride) along the road. They are aware of when you lie down and want to see you when you get up (sometimes far too early in my opinion). Your children learn from you as you cook dinner, watch TV, play basketball, go for a jog, meet up with friends, help a stranger and pay your taxes.
Whether you intend to or not, you are impressing upon them all the time who your God is by how you walk, talk, live, and breathe.
This dad is very intentional about his morning walk with his son. I see his coffee sloshing, but I never see his grip slipping from his little boy’s grasp. I’m sure his phone has rung, but I’ve never see him talking on it when his son is sharing about his day. I watch his slow steady pace as he ensures his skipping son with a shorter stride can keep up with him even though I’m sure there are days he feels he needs to rush. He is intentional about preserving this time with his little boy.
And therein lies the rub.
Are we, as moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas and caregivers and other adults, are we intentional in this brief time we have?
God’s not asking us to teach Sunday school lessons with crafts and glue and glitter and songs. He’s asking us to live a lesson of a life that says, “Hear oh child of mine, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” And that happens when we sit at home, when we walk along the road, when we lie down, and when we get up.. our lives are saying, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” We are leaving lasting impressions.