I could tell you about so many times that I have not been as patient as I should as a parent, or times that I have had to ask my son forgiveness for getting angry, but today I don’t think that would be very edifying for you. But I would like to tell you about a recent trip to the mechanic with my son that God turned into a Gospel moment. I hope that this may encourage you to pursue more of these types of opportunities with your children.
I almost didn’t bring my son with me to the mechanic this week because I had some studying to do, but I realized that he needed to get out of the apartment and that it would be good to have some time together, so I brought him along. We had a great time. He got to watch a few kids’ shows while we were waiting, I got a little studying done, we bought a bag of chips from the man that pushes the little cart down the street, and we talked about the area as we walked around a bit.
After spending 3 1/2 hours together, we were sitting outside on a bench waiting for the car to pull out of the shop when for some reason he asked me to tell him the story “about your fish that you used to carry around in a bottle.” So I told him the story of my pet goldfish that I brought back from Israel again, but I was sure to make it dramatic since we had time. At the end of the story Tobias asked, “And then he died?” I told him that the goldfish did die about a year after he came with me on the airplane from Israel. I explained to him that goldfish don’t live as long as cats, knowing that he was thinking of our pet cat that recently passed away. “I guess everything dies,” Tobias concluded.
For the next three minutes, my four and a half year old listened intently as I explained to him as simply as I could that although everything dies, Jesus died so that everything can be made new. And that we can live after we die–live eternally. He even listened closely as I explained briefly about sin, repentance and asking Christ to save us. I would have missed that Gospel moment if I had not brought Tobias with me to the mechanic. Although he does listen and probably catches more than we think when we are purposefully teaching him about the Bible, his ears were especially open that day because it was something that he was thinking and asking about as we went through our day together. The Bible and the Gospel were connecting with his life.
I am thankful that the Lord gave me that Gospel moment with Tobias that day. As parents we need to be actively looking for those opportunities. Sometimes we teach and teach our kids and make sure they are in Sunday School, but we also need to be looking more for those teachable moments that God naturally gives us which is when we often get a “window into their soul.” Another way of saying this is shepherding their hearts, all day. This is what God commanded the Israelite parents in Deuteronomy 6:6-9, a principle that is just as much of a command for us with our children today: “These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Moms, be encouraged because statistically speaking you probably get more of these everyday Gospel opportunities. Look for them, and use them to teach your kids about God and the Gospel. Dads, are you spending enough time with your kids so that you have these opportunities? Take advantage of every one of them, even if it is because you took your child to the mechanic.