Yet he commanded the skies above, and opened the doors of heaven; he rained down on them manna to eat, and gave them the grain of heaven.
Every mischievous kid knows that freshly poured concrete is an opportunity to leave a mark.
In 2003, Christian social scientist George Barna published the results of a Southern Baptist Convention study that indicated 71 percent of Christians in America became Christians between the ages of four and fourteen. Thus was born the 4/14 Window—a commitment to presenting the Gospel to young people between the ages of four and fourteen, when the concrete of their hearts has not hardened.
At the moment of some now-forgotten worry in my own childhood, when the concrete had not hardened, my father sat on the edge of my bed and taught me, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Those words from Romans 8:28 have saved and sustained me through the twists and turns of my roller coaster life.
The other day, my thirty-three-year-old son, Grant, mentioned a time during some episode of his own childhood worry. I had sat on the edge of his bed and taught him, “We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” He’s never forgotten.
Psalm 78 was written as a teaching tool for inscribing the knowledge of God’s glorious goodness on children while the concrete of their hearts had not hardened.
The Psalm follows a pattern that emphasizes
- God’s steadfast goodness.
- Israel’s frequent rebellion.
- God’s stern discipline.
- God’s never-ending love.
Every generation has the sacred responsibility to pass the knowledge of God’s faithfulness to the next generation. Without this knowledge, life is doomed to distortion and despair.
I once had a vivid dream where I was walking with my son Kevin along the edge of a steep cliff. Suddenly the ground gave way beneath him, and he began to fall. In my dream, he reached his arms up to me. His face was distorted with dread. But I could see a ledge just beneath his feet, and I shouted, “Don’t be afraid. I can see what’s beneath you.”
A child needs to learn many things during the 4/14 window, but they most need to learn is what’s underneath them. Teach them before the concrete hardens.
Yet he commanded the skies above,
and opened the doors of heaven;
he rained down on them manna to eat,
and gave them the grain of heaven.
Mortals ate of the bread of angels;
he sent them food in abundance.
He caused the east wind to blow in the heavens,
and by his power he led out the south wind;
he rained flesh upon them like dust,
winged birds like the sand of the seas;
he let them fall within their camp,
all around their dwellings.
And they ate and were well filled,
for he gave them what they craved.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Describe some of the important early influences in your faith development. What impact have these had on your life? Do you find today’s environment to be friendly to the faith development of children? On that basis, what is the future likely to be like?
PRAYER: Merciful God, when the grown-ups wanted to hush the children and send them away, you said, “Let the children come to me and don’t stop them.” Give me your open heart for children, and show me a place where I can pass on to them the life-giving, life-saving faith you have given me. Amen.