I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.Genesis 17:7
“Tony” stood before us recounting how he had ended up in prison for murder after a drug deal had gone bad. His testimony was about his conversion from a Mafia family to the family of faith. It was one of the most dramatic testimonies I had ever heard. But as I sat there in the cushioned seats of the Lovett auditorium — a prep school in Atlanta — I felt ashamed that my testimony was not that dramatic. I was a Buckhead kid who experienced the safety and security of the suburbs. In fact, as I left Tony’s story I felt compelled–as only a teenage boy would–that I needed to live more boldly into my sinful nature right now so that when I got older I could have a more compelling story to tell.
Stephen Smallman writes, “So much attention was given to dramatic conversion stories that the ‘boring’ examples of people growing up and receiving the faith passed along to them by their families were considered invalid.” This is one of the challenges in American Christianity; we have radically individualized our faith walks that we champion the Born-Again stories to the detriment of those whose faith journeys may be a slow, steady, faithful walk with Jesus since birth.
As a result, rather than seeking for my kids to have a dramatic conversion experience so that they can claim an “ah-ha” moment, my prayer for my kids has shifted. I pray that their faith would be “boring.” That the Gospel of Grace would be so intertwined into their lives that as they grow up they would never know a moment where Jesus Christ was not embracing them.
I am often asked why I am a Duke fan, and I respond that I grew up in a Blue Devil household because my parents, uncle and brother all went to Duke. There is not a moment in my life that I remember not being a Blue Devil (minus the 60 minutes of desperate prayer and hope I would hold every five years when Davidson would play against Duke). It was not a conscious choice I made; it simply was. It developed through the ritualistic practices of our household: I was allowed to stay up late to watch games against UCLA; I went to my parents friends’ homes for games; walking on the Duke campus I was regaled with stories from their time there; I learned how to lament during football seasons. So if fandom for that team can be instilled into me as a child, how much more important would it be for us to be instilling a fandom for the Lord so that our children would never know a moment apart from Him?
As parents we have the spiritual responsibility of helping to bring forth our children’s faith. Rather than having them choose the faith for themselves, their faith should become a natural continuation of the beliefs, values and practices they witnessed in us so that they may never know a moment apart from the Lord.
2 thoughts on “Devotion: A Household Faith”
You say something very interesting here. Because all my life I wanted that big “revelation” where I would turn from being a sinner and follow God wholeheartedly with everything that I am. That didn’t really happen in a way. Like what happened was that I read that God hated liars, so I lied one day about my homework and I automatically felt as if though I was going to hell. And this big conviction hit me about how I was supposed to get right with God. So I started begging God to show me the way to heaven. Sure enough, my mom taught me that if we believe in Jesus, then we will go to heaven, that’s when I was 8 that I accepted God with my heart. HOWEVER, I kept God in the back of my head and even though I was always doing my best to do the things that he wants me to do, I didn’t take him seriously until after I got out of jail. When I matured and saw a little bit of the world, I was able to see that there truly is nothing good without him. And I saw that I desperately needed him. And then in jail, I committed myself to God like I haven’t in my entire life. But I understand, you don’t want your children to know what it’s like to be without God because that’s just horrible. Pray for them, guide them towards the Lord, guide them to love the Lord more than they love themselves and they will grow up to love God above all else. Thank you for sharing this!
This is good. It’s noteworthy that Thomas and James are also Duke fans despite the peer-pressure in the neighborhood.