You know those cute book covers where you see the children quietly gathered around the father, Bible open on his lap, maybe a fire lit in the fireplace? Mother is sitting nearby with a contented smile on her face.
We don’t do family devotions like that.
Hats off to you, if it's happening in your family. Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with sitting around and reading the Bible as a family.
But we don’t gather around the family Bible together and all listen quietly while Dad reads.
Does this mean our family is void of Bible teaching in our home? Absolutely not. In fact, some of our very worst moments as a family have been when we’ve force fed our children Scripture in the evenings. Now, there have been seasons when everyone receives it well, and it's nice... but normally my attempts feel fairly forced.
It has taken me, a fairly idealistic wife and mother, a few years to realize that reality is rarely the way it’s portrayed in books and paintings. You might be saying "Duh..." right now, but it took me a bit longer. :) The endless stream of family devotional ideas you can glean from all around (not all bad, by the way) can seem just that – endless. And it was essential for me to realize that the devil wants to discourage me by having me believe this idea that we are somehow doing our children wrong, or failing, if our families don’t look like this certain way.
A little while back I was challenged and encouraged by a friend who shared about a book she was reading that was mainly about being authentic in front of our kids. Growing children up in an environment where they are seeing Mom and Dad’s relationship with Jesus alive, not just hearing about it. I think we all want to see authenticity in the people we are around. Hypocrisy is a huge complaint un-churched people have against “christians” and part of it is due to their experience with those said-christians. They have heard the preach, but maybe haven’t seen it in action. How will our children feel if we are preaching to them, but they aren't seeing Jesus transform our own lives, daily?
In our home, we are talking about Christ. We are talking about grace and love. We are talking about our sin problems. We are sharing the Word of Truth with each other as Bible memory is rehearsed daily. But I have long given up the picturesque scene of children on parents’ laps listening to the Bible being read. Currently, in our house, it’s just not working like that.
I have stopped believing this “If Only….” form of a lie. Because that’s basically what it was for me: "If only we had regular family devotions, we would be so much closer as a family, or the kids would be so much better behaved".. or whatever your “if only” reason might be.
We are free from this. Our family devotions do not look like they do in the books, and that’s okay. We are loving our children, training them in real-life situations throughout the day, and living beside them speaking the Word into their hearts.