Dinner time is a dynamic time at our house. Well, actually any time from 5:30 a.m. until about 8 p.m. is a dynamic time at our house. With four children, all needing assistance, dinner looks more like feeding a herd of cattle than a time of calm conversation over classical music. We are often pouring milk, cutting chicken, cleaning up a mess because we tried to do both at once, getting vitamins, getting remaining food on the table, blowing on the newly cut up chicken that is too hot, running into each other, stepping on toys and playing referee all at the same time. Then when everyone is finally all set with their meal and we sit down, one of them is done. What really surprises me about dinner is how meaningful the time really is, even though it is somewhat chaotic. It is at dinner that some of the best questions about faith come. How does that work? Don’t ask me. I just know that we are able to talk about our faith and God’s Word. I think that is significant.
Here are a few questions or discussions we have talked about at dinner:
“When we get to heaven, will we have eyeballs?”
“Why do we get presents for Jesus’ birthday?”
“Do we have bones in heaven?”
“Why do some people not believe in God? That’s bad, right?”
“I don’t need to be afraid because God is always with me. How come I can’t see Him?”
“Where does God live?”
“Hey Dad….I just love Jesus.”
“When cats get old, do they get killed and buried under rocks?”
“Did God make the chickens for us to kill and eat? Why?”
Prayer: “God, please help my brother to not have pink eye because I don’t want to get it.” (not at dinner, but still really awesome because I overheard this prayer)
“If I eat my vegetables, will I turn 5?” (ok, I guess this is just funny)
“Can Jesus see me right now?”
“When I am 8 can I do the cup of juice and bread thing? Is that really blood?”
“How did God make skin? bones? blood?bugs?” (Did I mention we have boys?)
“Did God put your brain in you? Did God put your blood in you?”
“So, what did you learn about in Sunday School today?” — This can be hit or miss it seems. This last week the answer was John the Baptist. Other weeks our 4 year old will tell us random details that don’t seem to connect. This is a lot of fun because we then get to guess what story it is.
Before I was a parent I would have told you that it is important to have a structured family devotion time. It is amazing how much I knew about parenting before I had any kids. Now, I would say that forcing a family devotion will likely not work at young ages, at least not in my house. It does seem like talking about the relationship we have with Jesus Christ right now is making an impression on our kids. The most natural time for that has been dinner time. We have even been able to use scripture to help correct behavior problems. That is a work in progress. I especially love Philippians 2:14 – “Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
All of this we do with the hope that our children see for themselves that this is real and that it matters.
No, we don’t have it all figured out. I also realize that as my kids grow things will change. For now, I pray they start to see that Jesus Christ is more than just a name we use in prayer or in church, but is a person that we follow and cherish. I know I can’t force that on my kids, but I pray that they catch it.