From Head to Heart

My second son, Edan, is reading through the Bible. But he has admitted to me several times that he finds it tedious to do so and he doesn’t feel like keeping up the habit of a daily quiet time with the Lord. I have tried to encourage him by talking about the importance of growing in his faith and the joys of getting to know God more intimately. However, it remains a struggle for him to cultivate the desire to read.

Yesterday, he expressed the same reluctancy to study the word of God. So I invited him to sit down beside me and we read a chapter in Malachi together. I explained to him the passages we studied — how they related to our own experiences as a family and how they could be applied as principles for living. He was very engaged in our discussion.

At one point, he began to tear and I didn’t know where this was coming from. So I asked him if it was something we read or something I said. He wasn’t ready to answer then but after we finished reading, he grabbed a couple of pillows, curled up on the floor and told me, “When you spend time explaining the Bible to me, I feel touched.”

Touched? Did my reserved and calculated son just use that word to express himself? It wasn’t a word he had used before.

He began to have tears in his eyes again.

For the first time, he saw how amazing God’s word can be. It had come alive to him. I suppose he had always wanted to feel like a daily quiet time with the Lord was worthwhile but he had gotten discouraged by his inability to understand the adult vocabulary. I assumed too much when I handed him an adult version of the Bible and expected him to magically absorb it all because he reads well.

Over breakfast, he added something like this, “I am happy because God tells you to take care of me.” His eyes turned red again and he was trying to express to me that the experience of shared time in the word was an example of this. As a young child struggling with the guilt of NOT loving God’s word, a solution was given to him. God sent me, his mother, to help him. What mattered to him was the Lord knew his heartfelt and secret need.

I asked him what he does when he reads through his Bible by himself. His reply was, “When I don’t know the words, I just ignore them. I just read to finish.”

There had been no joy in his encounters with truth because its meaning was unclear to him and its applications, a mystery. What a great disservice I had done him, by operating with a false assumption that he could navigate through the text. My eldest, Elijah, has a richer vocabulary so it is easier for him to comprehend what he reads. As for Edan, he was going through the motion of reading but there was no delight in it. It was becoming a ritual. Having those 20 minutes together, talking about how applicable the text was to everyday life was precious to him.

Author Tedd Tripp writes that parents need to see the Bible as a family album. The Bible isn’t a literary piece about a nation or people who bear no relation to us, it is a living text that tells us what God has done, can do and will do in our lives. It is the history of our faith in Jesus Christ and the future of it. Do our children know this?

As for me, I have a lot to improve on in this area. My children cannot be left alone to guide themselves in matters of the faith. They are dependent on Edric and I during these tender years, while under our care, to elucidate and illuminate the character of God, his principles, the warnings and promises, and stories as found in the Scriptures.

Furthermore, for faith to blossom in the lives of our children, it has to become personal. It is one thing to teach our kids about what we believe, to emphasize character, and to read Bible stories. It is a totally different and more important thing to teach them how to enjoy God, to find that their deepest longings and questions can be satisfied in him, and to discover the truth that sets them free in his word. When this happens, faith can move from cultural and traditional to convincingly meaningful so it can be embraced as completely acceptable. Faith can’t reside merely in the head, it must finds it’s way to our children’s hearts so that convictions and commitments can be formed.

This morning, Edan reminded me that we had to read together again and he eagerly brought me the bookmarked page of Scripture to go over with him. I may not be able to do this every single day but I pray that I can pass on to Edan a love for God’s word while he is still young.

O God, You have taught me from my youth, And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. (Psalms 71:17 NASB)


7 thoughts on “From Head to Heart

  1. Thank you for this post. I have good Christian parents who have always encouraged me to spend time reading my Bible. However, I would have appreciated the Bible earlier on if either one of them took the time to just sit with me, read and help me try to explain the Bible rather than expect me to do it on my own. As an adult I had that struggle, but by attending CCF as well as belonging to a small group and by God’s grace The Word finally made sense to me and now I can’t stop reading it! I recognize that this was my husband’s struggle too, and while your post is about helping your children appreciate and understand the Bible more, I think this works for husbands who are just blossoming in their faith. My husband loves God with all his heart but he needed some help to understand what is being talked about in the text. So I help him with that. We process together and once he actually said, “I love how God speaks to you through His word. I want that too.”

    I am glad you are doing this for your kids and God has shown you through your son, Edan how else you can make an impact on your children’s lives. I pray you will always find ways to bless them and bless others as well.

  2. Thank you so much for this post. Just two days ago, my 8yo daughter asked me for her very first adult bible. I bought the Veggie Tales version for her but also expected her to read through it alone. Now I realized why she was saying she needs to bring the bible to Sunday school… she needed someone to explain it to her. I now know what to do. Thank you very much Ms Joy for this very beautiful and helpful message.

  3. thank you for your encouragement. I never thought of sitting alongside my daughter while reading the Bible. Thank you for giving me an idea on how to nurture the love for reading God’s word.

  4. Oh what tender heart. Investing time to study the Word of God with our children is an investment of great worth! Try giving Edan a much easier Bible version to read in his personal devotion like the Contemporary English Version. It uses simple explanation but still accurately translated from the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. 🙂

  5. “When you spend time explaining the Bible to me, I feel touched.”

    I am so touched by this statement of Edan. I pray to God that He will make a way for me and my kids to spend time together reading the Bible regularly, in spite of our barriers of time and distance.

  6. Faith can’t reside merely in the head, it must finds it’s way to our children’s hearts so that convictions and commitments can be formed. — Joy Mendoza

    This statement is not only for kids but a reminder also for us adults…to be a good example to them.

  7. Thank you so much for this post. This just educated me and blessed me so much as a mother of a teenager and a grader. I pray to God that He will give me the wisdom to explain to my children the passages in the bible. God bless you teacher Joy.

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