Almost eleven years ago, my wife and I found out she was pregnant with our first child (we now have 4 and are done!). At the time, we were making very little money and had just recently moved to Oregon where she had a full time job and I was a temp in the pathology lab at Salem Hospital. We knew that we couldn’t afford to buy disposable diapers so we decided to go the cloth diaper route. There was only one problem. We didn’t have our own washer and dryer, and we definitely could not buy one. Inspired by the story of George Müller that I remember hearing from one of my chemistry professors at Asbury College, I remember saying out loud with Erin, “God, it would be great if you could get us a washer and dryer that we didn’t have to buy.” That’s it. We never really thought about it or prayed about it again. You can imagine my shock when my wife was talking with her aunt, who live in Oregon as well, on the phone and said, “REALLY!! Um, yeah, we’d love to have your washer and dryer.” Her aunt had recently remarried and had an extra washer and dryer in perfectly good condition.
I love to tell people that story of God’s provision. It’s one of many my wife and I could tell about God’s visible hand in our lives throughout our marriage. A few months ago, we told this story to our children… again. It was cool to see the “I’m-too-cool-to-smile” smile from my 10-year-old son. We told him and his sisters a few other faith stories that evening: how God provided a full time job for me just in time for me to qualify for health insurance right before he was born, how he prayed as a 3-year-old for us to have our own house weeks before finding out my parents were giving us money for a down payment on a house, and how he prayed for my brother to find a wife only to get a call from my brother about this really neat girl he met whom he ended up getting married to.
You could see the excitement in my children’s eyes and the conversation we had following that they grasped onto the reality that they were a part of God’s Story for our family and the world around us. One goal my wife and I have for our children is that they discover how they can step into God’s Story for their lives. One of the tangible ways we do that is by sharing our family stories of faith… and not just ones that have to do with our nuclear family but how God is working in the lives of our relatives and friends as well.
This morning I read a blog post on Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed Blog that reminded my of the importance family faith stories have in passing on faith to our children. As children’s ministers, we can get so caught up in making sure we get the right Biblical information into children and families that we forget to facilitate families entering into God’s Story and being a part of the Story. It’s not going to be the amount of information that we pass on to children and families that will captivate them and keep them committed to a relationship with God. (Don’t get me wrong… right Biblical knowledge is important.) What will keep them committed is a connection and participation in a Story that is bigger and more full than any story they could write for themselves. We need to encourage families to keep track of their family faith stories and revisit those stories as a family often as well as continue to create new family faith stories by stepping out and chasing after the Spirit of God and what he has for them.