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Confusion, Chaos, and Cartwheels: How Family Devotions Normally Go

 
Ed Drew | December 31st 2020

My friend, Amanda, vividly remembers the moment it all fell apart during a family Bible time. I’ll let her tell the story…

Halfway through, my 13-year-old daughter lay down on the kitchen bench to go to sleep, my 11-year-old son put his head on the table and closed his eyes, and my 7-year-old daughter decided it was the moment to practise her cartwheels. It all felt too hard, and tears started rolling down my face. That was the moment I was tempted to give up. Tempted to think it was all a waste of time. It was only God’s kindness that motivated me to keep going. 

The specifics are different in my family. We’ve never had cartwheels. We have had children lying down to sleep. We regularly have complaints: shouting is not uncommon and there is often silent sulking. What I have never had is, “Dad, please sit down with us and open the Bible because that is what we need.”

Please do not wait for the day when your children say that to you. Do not wait for the day when you feel confident to answer all their questions. Do not wait for the 10 minutes of empty time to open up in your daily routine. Opening the Bible together is more important than that. 

Do not wait for the day when you feel confident to answer all their questions. Do not wait for the 10 minutes of empty time to open up in your daily routine. Opening the Bible together is more important than that. 

I think when my children were younger, I tried to open the Bible with them because it felt like the right thing to do—the habit of good Christians. Now, it feels like a matter of survival. My children see my failings more and more. I apologise to them often. I cannot fix my children’s problems. (Not that I ever could, but I thought I could.) I know my weaknesses as a father. I want the very best for my children, so I am now more committed to showing them their Heavenly Father: their better Father.

Let me allow Amanda to tell you where her story went next…

 Zoom forward six years. The children are now, 19, 17 and 13 years old, and reminiscing about the things that they treasured about their childhood. Imagine my amazement when all three of them said, “Family Bible times”! They felt those times had drawn us close together as a family. They had seen my priorities, and that had shaped their thinking. Best of all, God had wonderfully used our family Bible studies to open my children’s spiritual eyes. Each of them knew and believed the love their heavenly Father had for them. Once again tears rolled down my face. This time, tears of amazement and deep gratitude. God had taken what looked so pathetic and useless, what I had been tempted to think was a waste of time, and he had done something spectacular. 

Today, I told my adult son that I was writing this. He messaged me, “Doing daily family Bible Study is the most precious gift that you gave me and my sisters. It didn't just teach me to build my life on the Scriptures, it's the reason I now feel so at home in them.” Tears are rolling down my face again. For as the apostle John so beautifully phrases it: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John v 4).

I know the difficulty of pointing my children to their Lord. He is on the throne—but will they notice? I may have written Meals With Jesus, a book of family Bible devotions, but I still don't find it easy to get my three children to sit down each day for 10 minutes to meet Christ. There is shouting. There is fidgeting. There is irritation. There is apathy. Every time I speak to parents about resources for them, I hear the same thing: "It needs to be simple."

Simple. Simple. Simple.

It needs to feel possible. 

It needs to make a nervous parent want to turn to Day Two because Day One was a pleasant surprise.

I don't find many resources that feel as if they are on the side of struggling parents, going with the grain of family life. 

Meals with Jesus is for families who aren’t sure how to open the Bible together. Each devotion can be led without preparation. There are different questions for 3-4s, 5-7s, 7-12s, teens and even parents, so the whole family can enjoy looking at the Bible together.

Amanda is now her church’s children’s worker. She recommended our first book, The Wonder of Easter, to her church. A young mum asked Amanda to visit her home to lead a family Bible time for her family, as she had never seen one done. After Amanda finished, the mum said to her, “Is that it? I can do that!”

So I wrote Meals with Jesus for families who aren’t sure how to open the Bible together. Each devotion can be led without preparation. There are different questions for 3-4s, 5-7s, 7-12s, teens and even parents, so the whole family can enjoy looking at the Bible together.

Meals With Jesus

Meals With Jesus

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Encounter Jesus in the pages of Scripture with these easy-to-use 10-minute daily devotions for families.

Special thanks to Amanda Lansdowne for her contributions to this article!

Amanda Lansdowne has three adult children, two sweet granddaughters and has been the children's worker at Christchurch Southampton and is now in that same role at Redeemer Winchester. 

 

 

Ed Drew

Ed Drew is the Director of Faith in Kids, resourcing children's ministry in the local church. Before that for twelve years he was the Children’s Worker at Dundonald Church, South West London. He’s married to Mary and they have three children. Previously Ed was an Engineer and he is still happiest building and fixing things.

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