Last year my son August learned to submit his life to God. He quickly read the entire Bible, and the changes to his life were phenomenal. This year he has been helping me in starting a Young Life Club in the town where I teach. Even though he is only 14 years old, I have come to rely on his spiritual maturity and insights. But the past several weeks I have noticed that he is beginning to struggle again with some anxiety and uncertainty. This has caused me some concern, so I have taken it to the Lord in prayer. What might be the next steps in his spiritual formation?
Yesterday, my husband and I took our kids to meet some old friends in Salem. We have maintained our friendship with our neighbors from Corvallis, and we periodically exchange kids for the weekend so that Natalie can play with her two girlfriends, Christine and Alyssa, and August can hang out with their older brother Zachary. Their mother, Inn, has recently committed her life to the Lord, and is growing in her faith. She is also passing it down to her three children.
It was Zach who unintentionally pointed me toward our next steps with August.
We all decided to browse a Bible bookstore in Salem together. Zach decided to purchase two Bible studies for himself and August seemed intrigued. At this moment I realized that August is floundering a bit in his quiet times, lacking the structure to practice the spiritual disciplines on a regular basis. (See “A Narrow Path to Transformation”) When he loses touch with the voice of God, old habits surface. This is true for all of us, and it is our job as his parents to help him to learn how to hear God’s voice daily.
I think every Christian is familiar with this verse:
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6 (ESV)
As parents we are all hoping that our faith will stick. We want our children to inherit this life with God even after we are gone.
I love the Easy to Read Version’s translation of this same verse:
“Teach children in a way that fits their needs, and even when they are old, they will not leave the right path.”
My two children, August and Natalie, are very different. They learn and process information very differently. Additionally, August is two years older, so he is naturally ready for more. As John and I pursue our own quiet times with the Lord, he gives us wisdom for discipling them both. This weekend it occurred to us that we should read Richard Foster’s book, “Celebration of Discipline” with August and train him to use the spiritual disciplines. (Book summary)
August is an intellectual. I think he will respond to deeper scripture study. I also think he is ready to practice all of the inward disciplines (meditation, prayer, fasting and study) with purpose.