Take advantage of teachable moments to show your kids the importance of a personal faith in God.
By Dennis Rainey
I had just pitched my travel bag in the back of our Honda station wagon. I turned on the ignition and was about to back out of the garage to head off to the airport for a business trip when I saw my daughter Ashley had walked up to the driver’s side window. Rolling the window down, I smiled, and asked, “What’s up, Princess?”
Ashley’s eyes looked down. Quietly and slowly her words escaped: “Dad, I’m afraid your plane is going to crash.” Then she gently placed her hand on my forearm.
A few weeks earlier, a Delta jet had crashed in Dallas. Our family heard the news live on the car radio as we were returning from vacation. Ashley had heard the reporters talk about first responders, billowing smoke, and casualties.
My 11-year-old Princess was afraid.
So I did what every dad tries to do … I tried to fix it by addressing her fears with logic. “Airplane engines are among the best-maintained pieces of machinery in all the world,” I told her. I could tell she wasn’t feeling comfort, so I continued. “Airplanes are much safer than cars—and you’ve never seen our car just quit driving down the road, have you?”
Seizing the teachable moment
The pained look on her face wasn’t going away. Finally, I got it. She didn’t need an engineering lesson. She needed her daddy to speak to her soul about faith. I needed to seize this teachable moment.
I regrouped and silently prayed the prayer of the helpless parent: “Lord, help me know what to say here.” Then I put my hand on her hand, looked in her eyes and said, “Princess, it’s okay to feel afraid. I’m glad you told me. I have things that frighten me, too.” She nodded.
“In a few moments, I need to leave and go to the airport. I wish I could stay here with you, but I can’t. But there is someone who is always with you. You can cast all your fears on Jesus Christ. He’ll be with you after I leave … and for the rest of your life.”
Plugging into God
To help her visualize what I was saying, I explained, “Picture a bunch of cords coming from you to your mom and me. Our assignment as parents is to help you unplug those cords from us and help you plug them into God.” I took her hand and “unplugged” one of those imaginary cords from me, then stretched her arm above her head toward heaven and plugged her cord into God.
A tiny smile lit Ashley’s sweet face. She reached above her head, unplugged her invisible cord from God, plugged it back into me, and said, “But what if I don’t wanna plug into God?”
For a moment silence and that invisible cord hung in the air. Then I looked her in the eyes, unplugged her cord from me, plugged it back into God, and said, “But you gotta!”
We both smiled. Then I took her hands in mine and said, “I need to get to the airport. May I pray for you?” She nodded and I prayed, “Lord, help Ashley talk to You and trust You with her fears. And, God, please keep me safe on this trip!”
As I pulled out of the driveway, I waved at Ashley and she grinned back. My little girl was becoming a young lady. I thought about how the culture she was growing up in didn’t have many moorings, and how she would need to grow in her experience of depending on Christ.
A vital relationship with Christ
This treasured moment with our daughter is a snapshot of your most important job of a parent: To pass on a living faith, parent to child.
From our observations and experience over the years, it seems that most parents today have three basic goals for their children:
We want our children to be safe … to be happy … and to be successful.
But how do we achieve those goals? You only have so much control as a parent. No matter how much you protect your children, they will still be touched by danger, by injury, by sickness.
Our good friend Ann Wilson said it this way:
Some people would say, ‘I just want my kids just to be happy.’ And I feel like that’s not good enough. Because first of all there’s going to be so much hardship and heartache that our kids are going to experience. Happiness is just an emotion that comes and goes. But