The Lord will protect you on your journeys—whether going or coming—from now until forever from now. (Psalm 121.8 CEB)
Stress and strain have caught up with me … (Psalm 119:143 CEB)
In caring for children now, you’re shaping the present and the future in powerful ways. You’re molding a child’s impression of adults and adulthood. You’re modeling how to communicate with someone very different than yourself. And so much more. So deliberately make this world a better place, and the future a potentially brighter thing, by actively caring for the children around you. Here are ten practical ways you can do so.
Babysit them for their parents. As you care for those who care for them, you bless the lives of both.
Give them a moment of your undivided attention. Bend over or drop down to one knee to be on their level, if possible. This is often such a rare thing for a child to experience, outside of their kin or closest friends, it will make a real impression on them. They’ll be thinking: “Here’s a grown up that looks at me, not just through me or around me? Amazing!”
Virtually banish comparisons with “the good old days” from your vocabulary. The operative word is “comparison.” Oh, it’s fine to occasionally bring up how things were done back in the day, but don’t make a habit of making or preaching moral comparisons (i.e. – then = good; today = bad). Not only do we all live in the present now, but often “the good old days” were actually, in many ways, what an octogenarian friend of mine calls “the so-called good old days.” Live in the present, not the past, for their sake and your own.
Take note of things children give their attention to these days, be it movies, games, activities, books, or whatever. These things will often serve as talking points you can call up and use in your conversations with them. As you learn what they’re tuned into, you can step into their world and not always expect it to be the other way around.
Adopt their technology. What? They can whiz around a smartphone or iPad and you don’t even have a clue how to use one? They’ll think Granny is hip if she creates a Facebook page and actually uses it for something beyond lurking. Imagine how surprised they’ll be to receive a text from Gramps ever so often. Be the grown up and engage children by embracing the world of technology. Even better, let them teach you. Don’t allow the thought to even rest in their head for a minute that adults aren’t open to new ideas or different ways of doing things.
Write them a brief, handwritten letter. A card is good for little ones, but just a plain, handwritten letter is even better for ones now past single-digit age. Word it with the present in mind, but pen it with how they would understand it if they read it again thirty years from now … because they just might. Yes, that’s old school technology, but that’s part of your job description: to introduce the younger set to old school ways while simultaneously adopting new ways.
Ask their opinion of things and try to see the world through their eyes. As you do so, you’re nurturing their sensitivity toward, and respect for, others, as well as modeling the importance and value of asking questions and listening deeply.
Build your relationship not on giving them presents, but on being present with them. In doing so, you’ll show respect to other family members who may not be able to give, though they’d like to do so. You’ll help allay any hint of an “arms race” as to who can give the most. You’ll subtly declare the true place of material things in life. And you’ll teach them by vivid example that the far greater gift is simply being with and for each other, whether things are present or not.
Introduce them to another adult who will treat them as you have treated them in any of the previous ways. Remember, you’re in the construction business, busy about about building bridges spanning generations.
… let’s not love with words or speech but with action and truth. (1 John 3.18)
NOTE: Following is a copy of the discussion guide that will be used in MoSt Church’s LIFE groups tomorrow, May, 13. This guide will enable your follow-up of my sermon, As a Mother Cares for Her Children, from Isaiah 49:13-15; 66.12-14. You’ll find these LIFE group discussion guides categorized each week here on my site under the category title “LIFE group guides.”
To impress upon us the powerful and wonderful loving care of God for his people.
Sing, heavens! Rejoice, earth! Break out, mountains, with a song. The Lord has comforted his people, and taken pity on those who suffer. But Zion says, “The Lord has abandoned me; my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child, fail to pity the child of her womb? Even these may forget, but I won’t forget you. (Isaiah 49.13-15 CEB)
The Lord says: Look, I’m extending prosperity [shalom; peace] to her like a river, and the wealth of nations like an overflowing stream. You will nurse and be carried on the hip and bounced upon the knee. As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; in Jerusalem you will be comforted. When you see this, your heart will rejoice; your entire being will flourish like grass. The Lord’s power will be known among his servants, but his fury among his enemies. (Isaiah 66.12-14 CEB)
Icebreaker questions are meant to help us all start talking. Choose one of the following to discuss as a group.
1. What are some of the good things you are quite sure you will remember for life?
2. Tell us of a good memory you have of your mother’s care for you, a motherly-like care someone has extended to you, or the care you have witnessed of any mother for her child.
These questions are meant to help us grapple with Scripture related to this morning’s sermon. Choose some.
1. What do you know of the original context of these two statements in Isaiah?
2. List the specifics of how a mother cares for her child that are directly noted in these texts.
3. How exactly does God reassure people that he has not forgotten them (Isa. 49.15-15)?
4. The image shifts from Israel as a child (in Isa. 66:12-14a) to Israel as something else (vs. 14b). What does God expect his children to grow up to be?
These questions facilitate our sharing what we sense God’s Spirit is doing with us thru his word. Choose some.
1. In light of these two texts, what are some proper responses to becoming aware that God is ever faithful and good to you?
2. Do any well-known Christian songs come to mind as you reflect on these words in Isaiah?
3. These two passages are full of powerful promises from God. What are some of God’s promises that you find yourself coming back to again and again for reassurance and hope?
4. What characteristics of God do you see reflected in a good mother’s care for her child?
5. Someone says to you, “I feel like God has totally forgotten me.” How would you respond?
6. Specifically, how can you extend God’s mother-like care and shalom to those around you?