My Haystack Rock memories are among my best.
As a child, I loved it when it was a year my parents chose to take us to Cannon Beach for vacation. It was a Christian family camp, so they had wonderful lectures and group activities for all ages. But best of all in my experience were our Haystack Rock memories.
My just-younger sister and I were old enough to opt out of children’s activities, so we got to be free-range kids at the beach.
What could be better? We wandered the colorful streets, looked in store windows, bought ice cream sandwiches from a vending machine. A couple of times we walked all the way to the beach and saw Haystack Rock. I’m not sure the two of us actually ever walked without our parents the whole two and a half miles to the big rock and back. But we loved going to the beach at low tide and examining the new world available for us to see there.
Years later, my husband and I got to return with our daughters to make new Haystack Rock memories.
My husband and daughters loved it as much as I did. This time the kids didn’t get opportunities to range free of us for a half day at a time, as I had. But they also loved seeing a different, more creative side of God in the marine life exposed at low tide.
Memories of low-tide near Haystack Rock
Together we reveled in examining the tiny creatures clinging to the wet rocks. We investigated tiny pools of fish temporarily cut off from the larger ocean. We marveled at all the starfish on the wet sand that survived till the tide came back in. And each night we watched the times of the tides according to the published time table, amazed that every day was different but always on a predictable schedule. God’s timing is beyond our imaginings.
During family prayer time that week, we thanked God often for the beauty of his creation.
Looking at the complexity of marine life we were able to see gave us a renewed appreciation for how big our God is. And how amazing it is that such a big God still cares about our daily needs.
Even more amazing is that the Lord Jesus Christ we regularly pray to created the world. We so often envision the Father as the creator and somehow think of Jesus coming on the scene as a baby. Obviously, that is when Jesus appeared as a human being.
But Jesus, the Son of God, was present at creation and participated in it. I love imagining the possibilities of the Triune God discussing together what to create next. God created us in his image–in community. Because he, our creator, is himself a community.
How cool is that!
No wonder he loves to have us talk to him and want to spend time with him. That’s at the heart of what community means: enjoying being together. Enjoying being together and enjoying the marvels of creation are what make my Haystack Rock memories the best!
Is there hope for our children if we do not delight in reading the Bible?
Will our children never learn to love the Bible? Worse, will they never trust Christ as their Savior? How do we find hope for our children?
Thank God that our children’s faith and spiritual growth is in HIS hands rather than in ours! We can be grateful that our God is sovereign and can work in our child’s heart and life even if we do nothing to further the process. Nevertheless, most of us want to be part of the process of our child’s discovery of who Jesus Christ is. We desire the joy of seeing our child turn to Christ and then learn to love the Bible and prayer.
But too often the tasks that need to be done now subject us to the tyranny of the urgent.
It can be impossible to spend time developing our faith when life is this busy. We push that off until some vague time in the future.
One difficulty is that infants demand so much time that young parents don’t feel energy for anything not urgent. If that is your situation, try listening to the Bible on your phone while you are feeding your baby. Then pray out loud. It’s one way we can listen and talk to God while actively parenting.
Another difficulty is that babies often have siblings. What if you have older children around while you are feeding your baby? Is it possible in your family to have the children sit with you and listen to a story while you feed your baby?
My older children grew to love that time because they knew that when their sister was being fed, they would be read to. They rushed to get me a book when they saw I was starting to feed the baby.
Are you in a period where it is impossible to find quiet time to read your Bible and pray? Think about reading a Bible story to your children while the baby feeds. Simple prayer time can follow. God will bless you as he blesses your children.
Most importantly, remember that each phase of parenting is a season.
In some seasons it is easier to find time for spiritual routines than in others. And God loves us through them all. He loves us and he longs for us to seek him, so that he can allow us to feel his love more powerfully.
As Proverbs 2:4-6 and Psalm 21:6 tell us, when we seek the wisdom of the Lord, we experience eternal blessings and the joy of God’s constant presence with us. We find the “hidden treasure” put there for us. Finding that treasure ourselves gives us even more hope for our children.
What are little ways you have seen God bless you with signs of his presence with you? What are ways you have found to make way for the Bible in your busy life with children? I would love to hear your stories.
When Bible reading’s a chore.
I used to rush through my Bible reading like a chore. When I remembered it.
It took many years for it to become enough of a true habit to bring me joy—consistently. The good news is that after many years of reading my Bible—even when I sometimes didn’t feel like it—this became a time I now really look forward to. It also became a habit I could pass on to my kids.
Joe Stowell writes in “Sweeter than Honey” that he reads his Bible until he finds something the Lord is telling him for that day. That seemed like a great idea but a little impractical with the many things in my life. Until I tried it.
When I first read of Stowell’s practice, I was reading Leviticus. The next morning I skeptically said to God as I began, “Good luck, Lord. I’m in Leviticus.”
God amazed me. The text I was reading detailed all of God’s requirements for the regalia of Aaron as God’s new high priest. It suddenly hit me that Aaron was between 85 and 90 years old when he began the career that defined his life.
That realization was extremely relevant to me. I was beginning a new phase of life, after forced early retirement from a job I loved.
I have been a teacher my whole life. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE teaching. Being forced to leave my college during a downsizing caused me great grief. And the state of the academic market made me realize my full-time teaching days are over.
I knew I should not think of the past years as the best years of my life. But it was tempting.
God encouraged me through this text to see the enormous possibilities of how he will bless me and use me in the years ahead. If I am looking to him. Reading my Bible regularly is a huge part of this. This blessing came through my reading of Leviticus. Go figure.
What do you do when Bible reading’s a chore?
Try asking God to speak a meaningful word to you for the day through your Bible reading.
Think of the times God has given you delight through his Word. Were they times in a Bible study, in a worship service, with friends, or alone during a time of deep struggle of trying to find God’s will? Or sharing Bible stories with your kids?
Sometimes it’s tempting to think that we only need the Bible during special times or that he only speaks to us through it occasionally. But what if every day we honestly ask him to speak a word to us that day? What could happen if we listen for that?
My experiences are not usually as dramatic as on that jolting day in Leviticus. But I have found much more consistent daily encouragement since I started looking for it.
When Bible reading’s a chore, maybe we need to ask God how to change that for us.
When I was recovering from a traumatic break-up years ago, God gave me a promise: “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).
Relief washed over me. I read that as a promise that my loving the Lord would result in his granting me my intense desire for a godly husband and a family. As I began to claim the promise of that verse, I thought about it a lot. God showed me that the focus of the verse was not on love for him—but on delight in him.
But it was a bit confusing. What exactly was delight? I remembered Edmund disobeying Aslan for the White Witch’s Turkish Delight in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but I didn’t know how a person could truly delight in God.
I had always delighted in small children, but I needed to grow into true delight in the Lord. How could I learn to turn to him and feel my heart brighten as it does when I see an adorable toddler?
How could I revel in ordinary moments spent with God and in seeing his work in my daily life? Especially when my life was not going according to my plan.
How could I delight in God, when it seemed he was not answering my deepest prayers?
I began to look for ways to enjoy him in my private Bible reading and prayer time. Eventually I discovered that writing down my prayers and thoughts in a prayer journal helped keep me focused. When my mind wanders now, I can pray about those concerns and not forget my focus.
But a strange thing happened. I realized that as God had increased my delight in him, he had lessened my intense desire for a husband and family. I believed I could even be happy without them. I knew that God was my ultimate desire. Wow. What a change in my heart.
Two years later he granted my early desire: a godly husband. Then three wonderful daughters. But God taught me through that struggle what true delight in the Lord is and how important it is that I share that with those around me.
We probably all identify with Julie Andrews’ song about her favorite things—also loving snowflakes on eyelashes and little girls in dresses with sashes.
Do we also delight in time spent praying and reading the Bible? If so, how do we convey that to our children? How will our children see our delight in the Lord?
What is your prayer for the child or children in your life?