Points to Ponder/Teachable Moments

by Pastor Dennis Whitmore

Our four-year-old daughter was about to turn five in a few days. The big party with all her buddies would be tomorrow. Cakes were baked, decorations were up, and excitement was in the air. But at 12:30 a.m. we awoke to her cry for help. A stomach ailment, and the subsequent results, shocked her out of her sleep. Elizabeth is healthy and rarely gets sick. So, when she does fall ill, she’s pretty upset. It’s an unfamiliar, scary thing to have your body doing stuff it shouldn’t do.

As my wife consoled her on the sofa, with a bowl in hand at the ready, I took to cleaning up the bed and carpet and getting her “Blankie” washed and dried so that “he” would be there to comfort her.

At 2 a.m., she was huddled on the sofa with her bowl and Blankie, and she worried about having to cancel her party. It was a teachable moment. So I said, “Let’s ask God to make you better so you can have your party.” I said a little prayer with her, asking God to do just that.

This reminded me of Deuteronomy 6, where God’s people are told to keep God’s commands upon their hearts. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” (Deut. 6:7) The verse basically says to make God’s word a natural part of every day life in your home. Build a relationship with God so that your children (and you) are always aware of His presence.

The next morning, Elizabeth woke up feeling fine. After her bath, she said it was “good to be normal.” I reminded her of our prayer and that God had blessed her with health. She was very happy and thankful for that. Again, another teachable moment had presented itself.

I told her about children who are sick a lot. Some never enjoy the kind of health she has. Our children are blessed with much and it’s vitally important that we teach them that their blessings are gifts and not entitlements.

Have you ever thought about that? On your worst day you are better off than a lot of people. For some, the only time they really think seriously about God’s presence in their lives is when something bad happens.

I used my daughter’s time of sickness to teach her to turn to the Lord and trust Him. I also must remember to point out even more often that the many blessings she enjoys and takes for granted are gifts of God. Teaching thankfulness and respect is important. It’s sad that some of us have to face a near-death experience or some other crisis in order to realize this.

Paul reminds us of how we should live, with God as a natural part of our homes and our lives.

“Be joyful always, pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)

You can only do that if you are intentional about Christ being the Lord of your life. It’s not a ritual - it’s a relationship. And in that relationship, you can find many teachable moments in which you can point a child to the Lord.

Are you watching for teachable moments? Is God a member of your household, the Lord of it in all circumstances? Or is He just the divine fire extinguisher on the wall - “Use only in case of emergency”? It’s worth pondering.

Any child who looks up to you is watching to see what really matters to you. If you are not making good use of the authority they have granted you, be sure that someone else out there will.

Know the Lord! Keep working on knowing Him more and more. That’s what the greatest commandment means.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”(Deut. 6:5 NIV)

We’re not called to pass on a religion; we’re called to impart a relationship. Encourage that relationship. Watch for those windows of opportunity on the playground, over homework, while playing a game, or whatever. Introduce the child who trusts you to the Lord whom you trust.

“Let the little children come to Me and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.” (Jesus in Matthew 19:14 NIV)

Yours in Christ,
Pastor Dennis

Pastor Whitmore serves God at the First United Methodist Church in Laurel, MD.