Sprints and marathons: an encouragement for parents in the trenches

A snapshot of Bible time at our house, when it happens.

Dad. Do you guys remember the name of the man we’ve been talking about? The one who built the boat?

Foard. Owen.

Sam. NO FOARD, it was NOAH.

Foard. Oh. Noah. HEY I KNOW NOAH! (He does.)

Dad. Sam, please use kind words with Foard. Yes, it was Noah.

Foard. Yeah. Noah. And if there were bears that came into our house, they would make a mess. And Daddy would say “Who made this mess?” (This was part of an illustration to the Noah story, weeks ago when we started it.)

Dad. Yes. Ok, so God told Noah to build a boat…

Sam. And Dad, did you know that Changer-Man can change into a boat? He can change into ANYTHING.

Dad. OK, but we’re not talking about superheroes right now, it’s Bible time and I want you guys to listen.

Foard. Yeah, and I’m SNEAKY-MAN. I’m Sneaky-Man, Sam is Changer-Man, Mommy is Power Girl, and Eliza is… what’s Eliza’s superhero name again?

<threat against more talking>

<cursory reading of brief Bible passage, skipping over non-central points>

<quick selection of 1 of the 3 application questions in the book>

Dad: Let’s pray.

And scene.

For my last two years in college, I was very consistent in spending the first 30-45 minutes of the day in the Bible and prayer. I don’t have an explanation for it (I see that hand. Yes, the Holy Spirit. Thank you.); I just locked into a routine: Wake up, make coffee, open Bible.

I don’t remember a single insight or “Aha!” moment I had during that time, though I’m sure there were some. I have the journals somewhere. I do remember that the last several months of school, I went through a serious spiritual desert– never felt anything, it was hard to pray, etc. But as I look back, those 2 years were probably one of the top three times of spiritual growth I’ve had in my life.

Similarly, I doubt that my kids will ever think “There was a Tuesday in September of 2012 when my dad told us how the Flood reminds us that God will rescue his people from his own wrath. Awesome insight.” But God willing, they’ll remember that a lot of the time, after dinner we’d sit and talk about the Bible. Because whether we’re talking about our own devotional time or our frantic attempts to teach our kids, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. And the results come in years, not days.

Hang in there, fellow trench warriors. We’re playing a long game.

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