“I rejoiced with those who said to me,
’Let us go to the house of the Lord.’”
• Psalm 122:1 •
Fire darted from blue eyes. “I don’t want to go.”
White ruffles flounced around her squirming legs as we clicked the strap into her car seat. She crossed her arms, defiant. A frown like an angry arc puckered her lips.
“Already,” I thought? “She’s only four.”
For the Psalmist, the long process of a once-a-year trip to Jerusalem brought joy. For this mamma making the fifteen-minute trek in a car to Sunday morning church, emotions might be mixed.
My child didn’t want to go to church and her dad was one of the pastors. Yikes.
I shut the car door and slid into the front seat, weary of the battle, wondering how in four short years I could have failed so miserably. My husband’s eyes peered into the rearview mirror. We both sighed, looked at one another, questioning and resigned.
God weaves the words delight and desire all through Scripture. He mixes them into His law. He joins it with sacrifice and fuses them together with worship. Obedience to God thrives within its heart attitudes. Longing for His presence grows.
Attitudes can’t be forced, but they can be cultivated. Delight and desire for spiritual things are planted by God’s Spirit. A parent’s privilege is to nurture those passions. Our prayer is for wisdom in how to go about it.
Getting kids ready for church can be exhausting. Implementing spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible reading at times feels like torture. Every parent wants to avoid lick-it-and-stick-it Christianity: We don’t want to teach a faith that is shallow or tight like a straight jacket. Yet, sometimes efforts seem to far outweigh rewards. We wonder where is joy in following God?
As the Israelites traveled together for the once-a-year trip to Jerusalem, they demonstrated happy anticipation. Their exuberance was contagious. They sang songs, ate together, prayed and related experiences in preparation for temple worship. Groups of family members traveled the dusty roads together, braving the elements, accepting discomfort and chaos. Meeting with God in His sanctuary was the pinnacle of every year.
They offer a contagious model we can follow today:
1 • They delighted in His presence. Spending time with God is essential to enjoying Him more. When we nurture our own love for Jesus, it spills onto others.
2 • They delighted in His Word. The more we learn to know God, the more our love for Him grows. His Word reveals who He is and opens our eyes to truth.
3 • They delighted in His people. When Jesus lives in us, our worship is freed from the law of ritual or location. The body of Christ builds up one another. When God’s family meets in community, worship strengthens and unifies.
Little ones’ receptivity will thrive and wane—they will deflate us one day with their lack of desire then delight us the next with some deep spiritual insight. Their interest will at times be like a child forced into the confines of a car seat. However, like the Israelites on the road to Jerusalem, it is a journey well worth the effort.
Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. Mom to four, grandma to 13, and wife to her one and only love, she enjoys writing about all of them.
Cover photo courtesy of Bing Images.