You can definitely think strategically about the background noise in your liturgical home, but your golden opportunities for teaching are when your subjects (that is, yourself and/or your children) are in your presence and unable to get away. In our daily routines, this happens three ways: at bedtime, around the table, and in the car.
I love this lyric from Caedmon’s Call: “When I forget to drink from you, I can feel the banks harden / Lord, make me like a stream to feed the garden.”
Too often we get our water metaphors all mixed up–we imagine that we are a firefighter, using the Bible as a tool to put out fires in our kids’ behavior and attitudes. We blast them with forceful moralizing or pointed out-loud prayers like “May the Spirit soften Abby’s rebellious, unrepentant heart!”
Those powerful hoses sure do extinguish the flames, but they can cause a lot of water damage, too.
A more gracious approach is to remember that we as well as our children are parched ground, and we need the gospel coiled over us all like a soaker hose. I’m just on the front end of the learning curve here, but I think what might be more powerful than you preaching to your kids in a crisis is them hearing you preaching to yourself all day!
I’m not saying that every single car ride and meal time is the right time for a lecture on the rise and fall of dispensationalism or a reading from the Institutes. But do think about optimizing those moments when you have your family together and sitting still, and consider how you might turn on the soaker hose in natural, gentle intervals throughout the day.
Maybe you’ll choose to start the day by reading a Psalm at breakfast. Or to work through a family devotional at dinner. Maybe you can designate one of your daily drives as a time to turn off the Top 40 radio or the Wee Sing CD and instead listen to Bible verses or a catechism set to music. I know a couple of teenagers who memorized the whole book of James in a couple of months just by practicing it in the car on the way to school and back. My personal habit in this particular season of mine is to turn the kids’ music on the back speakers in the car and listen to a sermon or a good hymn mix on my iPod while I drive.
And even when it’s not Family Devotional Time, make an intentional effort to point your conversation back to gospel truths, and blur the line between “spiritual” and “everyday” topics as much as you can. (In a way that is natural and appropriate, of course. I am not advocating that you “Jesus Juke” every single comment that comes out of your kid’s mouth. They’ll hate that.)
Just keep the water running.
Keep Reading: Eucharisteo