Crash. The thunder rumbled angrily as rain pelted down from the sky.

My then-three-year-old son shook with fear at the noise and started crying.

“Don’t worry, Jesus will protect us.” I said the most reassuring thing that came to my mind.

To my surprise, he started crying even more. In between tears, he wailed, “How can Jesus protect me? His arms are not that long! He is in heaven!”

Tickled by the hilarity of the moment, I pondered how to reply to my son.

After some thought, I said, “Jesus’ arms are long; they can reach you. Besides, Jesus is everywhere. He’s even in your heart.”

Sometime later, he asked, “How can Jesus fit inside my heart?”

Though I grapple for the perfect answer to my growing preschooler’s fascinating questions, I find myself enjoying these everyday conversations about God more and more.

Often, he would blurt out something he remembered us talking about before, and I am amazed at the impression my words have made on him.

The Last Sermon

I suppose these conversations are partly what Moses imagined when he preached his last sermon to the people of Israel as they were about to enter the promised land, which is recorded in the book of Deuteronomy.

Faced with his last moments, his concern was that they would hold on to their faith, and pass it on to their children and grandchildren so that they would not forget how God rescued them from slavery in Egypt.

His sermon consisted of the commandments, decrees, and laws on how to live as God’s holy people, as they sought to love God with all their hearts, souls, and strength.

However, the main responsibility to teach the Israelites these commandments did not fall upon the religious leaders or priests but, surprisingly, the parents.

Moses specifically challenged the people to teach God’s Word diligently to their children, in their homes, as they took walks, when they laid down, and when they woke up.

The main responsibility to teach the Israelites these commandments did not fall upon the religious leaders or priests but, surprisingly, the parents.

This kind of teaching was to be done 24/7 in their everyday lives and in the most ordinary settings. He instructed them:

“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.”
—Deuteronomy 6:7

Seizing the Moments

Today, many parents have ‘farmed out’ the teaching of God’s Word to Sunday school teachers, perhaps thinking that their children might learn more in a structured setting from the ‘experts’.

While Sunday school can play an important role in establishing our children’s spiritual foundation, we must never forget that God has ordained us parents to be the primary teachers of our children.

However, much of parenting has become a busy business.

We rush to take our kids from schools to parties to classes, all in the simple hope that they can lead happy and successful lives. And we may feel overwhelmed at adding a family devotion time to our never-ending ‘’to-do’’ list.

While Sunday school can play an important role, God has ordained us parents to be the primary teachers of our children.

How can we find time to teach our children about God and His ways?

The beauty of Moses’ exhortation is that we are to teach God’s commandments to our children on the go.

We can talk to our children about the questions of life in the lift, on the bed, or at the dinner table. Five minutes here and three minutes there can be more powerful than we realise.

Young children have short attention spans, and it is likely that they can talk about God and PAW Patrol in the same breath.

The question to us parents is: Are we available to seize everyday moments to talk to them?

How have we planned our lifestyles, schedules, and routines to make space for these conversations?

It can be so easy to be so distracted by the latest WhatsApp message that comes in, such that we make more eye contact with our screens than our children.

In our rush to get them moving through the day, we can focus more on getting them fed, bathed, and in bed, rather than seizing the teachable moments to impress God’s Word on their heart.

The question to us parents is: Are we available to seize everyday moments to talk to them?

Just last week I was using my computer when my now-five-year-old son asked me a strange question. “Mummy, how did Jesus’ Father appear on earth?”

Knowing that I would regret it if I passed this opportunity to discuss his concept of God, I forced myself to put aside my uncompleted tasks, sit with him on the play mat, and address his profound confusion.

“He was there from the beginning. He just appeared, since He was God.”

“Huh? You mean He wasn’t born?” (He smiles in delight and confusion.)

“No, He is so powerful He didn’t need to be born.”

“So Jesus is not powerful.”

“Yes, He is. He is the Son of God and so He is powerful.”

“I like my Buzz Lightyear.”

“Oh okay, so you like Jesus? You understand that He is powerful too?”

“Yup! Buzz has a jetpack too.”

Keeping His Word in Our Hearts

In these fleeting—and sometimes bizarre—moments, I realise that answering my son’s questions in a short minute is not only difficult, but it also sharpens my own understanding of God’s Word.

No wonder Moses did not just stop at telling the Israelites to teach their children—He also commanded them to be familiar with God’s Word themselves.

They were to tie them as symbols on their hands, bind them on their foreheads, and write them on their door frames and on their gates (Deuteronomy 6:8–9).

Today, while we may not do these literally, the commandment is clear: We need to personally grow in our knowledge, understanding, and application of God’s Word.

As God said to Moses’ successor, Joshua, he was to meditate on the Law day and night, and not let it depart from his mouth (Joshua 1:8).

As parents, do we spend time meditating on God’s Word, or do we spend countless hours on Netflix after the children have gone to bed?

Why Does This Matter?

In my work with young people, most of whom are second-generation Christians, I have found that many of them lack a sense of history about how their families came to know God.

They go to church simply because that’s how it has always been done.

They may not have the same sense of gratefulness their parents or grandparents had when Jesus first brought hope into their lives.

Moses was afraid that the second or third generation too would lose their sense of history and forget the amazing miracles God did to bring them out of slavery.

He was worried that they might stray from God once they experienced comfort in the promised land.

As parents and perhaps as second-generation Christians ourselves, we must share Moses’ concern.

I have found that many second-generation Christians can lack a sense of history about how their families came to know God.

Most of our children are born into a world where their basic needs are met, and they experience an abundance of toys, good food, and thrilling experiences.

They have the ease of modern technology where almost anything is simply a click away.

While that brings convenience, it also brings an unprecedented exposure to different worldviews, beliefs, and cultures.

This combination of abundance and exposure creates a difficult world for our children to navigate, and it can sometimes be hard for them to see why the Christian faith is relevant to them.

Just as Moses predicted that the future Israelites would, some of them might ask: “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and commands the Lord our God has commanded you?” (Deuteronomy 6:20).

It is then that we must be able to say, “Once upon a time . . . ”

Tell them your salvation story. Tell them how God walked with you as you decided who to marry, where to work, and how to spend your money.

Tell them about the miracles He performed. Tell them your highs and lows, and give them a vision of how God can continue to write the story of their lives, as He did yours.

In a world where so many cartoon characters, influencers, marketers, and celebrities are trying to shape our children’s values and beliefs, let us impress God’s Word on their hearts, one conversation at a time.

Give Us This Day 16

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Quek Shiwei is a mother of four. She holds a Masters of Divinity from Singapore Bible College, and served as the Director of Kallos.
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