My young granddaughter and I perched ourselves at the kitchen table, enjoying our pre-rest-time game of Go Fish. Her papa and I gave this game to her recently as a reading chart prize, and she’s been hooked ever since. Relishing this one-on-one time with a grandchild, I took the opportunity to relate it to the simple, yet biblically-profound topic of fishing.
Like many phases of our grandchildren, this one may be short-lived. In the event that it is, we need to seize it. As grandparents of seven children, ages five and under, my husband and I have witnessed a variety of toddler and preschooler “come-and-go” fascinations ranging from an obsession with keys, doors, elevators and any automatic button that opens said elevator door, to shooting endless hoops, fort climbing, coloring, “triking” on the bike trails, marching in circles with musical instruments, acting out of scenes with various character assignments, and too many more to mention. Each of these “here today, gone tomorrow” toddler obsessions ushers in a natural chance for moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas to infuse our days with gospel truth.
We’re often paralyzed by the assumption that passing on biblical truth only happens in the form of formal devotions. These intentional forms are critical and play a sizeable role in the spiritual growth of our families. But, intentionality also comes in the form of all-day-long, capturing-the-moment occasions. Scripture commands and reminds us over and over to teach, disciple, and pass on truth in our everyday interactions. One such example is found in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy.
“These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates” (Deut. 6:6-9, CSB).
When we color with a toddler on our lap, we can tell them how colorful God created the world and how he created everything. If we march around in circles with make-shift trumpets, we can re-enact the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho. While opening little playhouse doors and knocking on the door of the house, church, doctor’s office, or whatever pretend situation the hour brings, we can tell the story of Jesus visiting Zacchaeus, and how Jesus encourages us to knock and “the door will be opened” (Matt. 7:8). Or that when Jesus knocks on the door of our heart, we need to open our heart to him. When we’re knee-deep in snow pants and snow angels, we can rejoice with our little one, describing how God makes us “whiter than snow” (Ps. 51:7) and how Mommy (or Grammy) is dependent on that too. And, if our 3-year-old daughter or granddaughter invites us to play Go Fish with her, we can tell her how Jesus invites us to be “fishers of people” and to tell everyone about the good news.
Playtime, mealtime, chore-time, and even drive-time present countless occasions for conveying that our Triune God has always been and always will be faithful. We can show them how his word is applicable for every single part of our day.
Eloquence and seminary training aren’t necessary to pass on excitement for God’s word. Rather, our own love for his word and a prayerful heart—which captures the fresh reminders needed to infuse the gospel from one activity to the next—are needed. Then, when our children and grandchildren are 10, 12, or 14, it will seem completely normal to them when we talk about Jesus and his word whatever we’re doing and wherever we’re going.
Even if our little people have already grown into bigger people, today is still a great day to start! God’s mercies are new every day. If we have a teenager in our lives, and our family life has been relatively void of gospel dialogue, each new dawn unveils a chance. Most every 13-year-old will have familiarity with the Noah and the ark story. We can talk about how ridiculous Noah must have looked to his peers building that boat when there was no rain, but how Noah’s willingness to stand alone and act obediently was part of God’s plan to save and revive creation.
The Bible will seem less intimidating, but more relevant to our kids and grandkids when we connect it to everyday realities and happenings. And, moms and grammies, when we roll that ball back and forth with our toddler or grandchild, we can remember that God’s word never returns void. Each and every biblical story, truth, and directive we share will make a difference in their lives; even if it seems to land on the floor like the smooshed blueberry or it feels like it’s rolling into the street like the ball you’ve retrieved 100 times, it will come back in some way. Seize the phase. When we’re talking, walking, sitting, getting up, and when we’re coloring, marching, or playing in the snow, we can—and should—seize the phase.
Kay is a pastor’s wife, mom to three grown children, mother-in-law to three amazing spouses of her kids, and “Grammy Kay” to seven grandchildren ages five and under. Kay recently graduated from Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University with a M.A. in Ministry Leadership. Kay loves the Church world-wide and her multi-site church, Prairie Lakes Church, in Iowa, where she currently leads the prayer ministry, writes sermon curriculum, and co-hosts their small group, along with her husband, John. Kay enjoys creating prayer journals for her grandchildren, running, writing, and cooking freezer meals when she’s not playing with her grandchildren, which, in this “blink-of-an-eye” season, trumps all other “extra-curricular” activities.