by Nancy Tichy, KidZ at Heart International
I met Bethany shortly after she had returned home from a six month stay in Peru. A homeschooled teenager, she had made an enormous difference serving a young missionary family as nanny for two lively preschoolers. Each weekday morning, she kept track of the children while the mom was in language study. She spent afternoons on studies of her own, or on trips into the neighborhood trying out her survival Spanish. She had returned to California full of stories and pictures to share with her peers in youth group and with her own family. Her experience had turned out well.
During our conversation, I asked her, “What was the most important thing that you learned from this?”
Her answer surprised me and has stuck with me over the years since I had this delightful meeting with Bethany. She replied, “I learned to trust God.”
I’ve asked myself the question many times: why did Bethany feel she learned this through a mission trip – something that she hadn’t learned in her Christian home before traveling to Peru? Could it be that learning to trust God had actually begun when she decided to take on the challenge of living away from her family in another culture surrounded by a language she could not speak well, with people she had only recently met? What role did her parents play in helping her take this risky leap of faith, so to speak, a risk in obedience to God’s leading?
And, finally, is there something here for us to learn? Can we discover effective strategies to protect our kids from foolhardy actions to become godly risk-takers in obedience to their faith in Jesus?
Consider the steps parents often take to encourage their toddler to walk as an appropriate analogy.
- Parents watch eagerly for signs that baby has reached the maturity needed for walking.
- They provide safe places where they can encourage the child to let go of the furniture and venture out towards their outstretched arms.
- They expect that the child will fall, at first, and encourage him to get up and keep trying.
- Their delight over each success is made clear to the child.
- True, sometimes when the fledgling walker turns into a runner, parents wonder why they were in such a hurry, but I’ve never heard of anyone glad because their child could not eventually walk on his own.
For, the best way to walk alone is to replace the fear of falling with an unassailable trust in the one who keeps the child safe when she tries and fails, and affirms her with every attempt she makes to let go and walk on her own.
If you’re a parent with children still in your home, consider the spiritual parallels to the steps outlined above. Devise a prayerful plan to develop in your children the steady growth needed to walk into adulthood with the spiritual maturity and experience needed to take risks for God – trusting God to bless them and bring glory to His Name.
…you will hear a voice say, ‘This is the way; turn around and walk here.’ Is.30:21