Jesus turned meadows into classrooms. He took the ordinary environments and experiences of the people around him, and used them to help communicate his message. What would it look like for us to do the same thing today?
If you’re like me, you feel more confident as well as comfortable when you are able to teach people a lesson that was prepared far in advance.
But what do you do when a lesson presents itself that you haven’t planned for? I say you take it and run with it.
On the drive home from school the other day, my 6 year old asked me one of those questions that took me totally off guard. We weren’t sitting down as a teacher and a pupil would. I was driving. He was in the back seat of the car.
“Dad, what are these balls beneath my penis?” For him, it wasn’t an unusual question. It was 100% based in curiosity. He simply didn’t know. For whatever reason, he was wondering about it in that moment as he stared out the window to the toll road in our town.
“Well,” I said, “Those are called testicles.” This was not the answer he was looking for. He went further, “What are testicles?” Somehow I knew a simple answer wouldn’t suffice.
“Son, remember how you are studying about dirt right now at school?” “Yeah,” he said. “What would it take to make grass if all you had was dirt?” I was hoping he would take my bait. After a few seconds of thinking he finally answered, “Seeds.”
“Exactly, son. God designed a man’s body so that seeds for a baby come from his testicles. God made a mommy’s body to be a safe place where a baby can grow before it is born.” I don’t know what it was about that answer, but he started giggling. “But dad, how do the seeds get into the mommy?”
At that point I began to sweat.
Jesus didn’t run from these scenarios. In a sense, he ran toward them. He took those awkward moments like when a woman was caught in adultery, and he taught a profound lesson.
Our goal as parents should not be to teach our kids in such a way that they would listen. It should be to teach our kids in a way that they would hear. There’s a big difference.
With enough threat of consequence, anyone can be made to sit still, point their head in our general direction while we speak, and act like they care. But as a dad, I want my lessons to cut to my kids’ hearts, be planted, and eventually be used by God in shaping who they are.
How do you do it? To use the football phrase, “You ‘shoot the gap’.” When you see the door to your child’s soul open ever-so-slightly, you run in. We can’t always choreograph those teachable moments, but we can always respond to them.
That conversation ended over a Big Red drink at a local gas station. I continued to answer each and every question he threw at me. And as I would expect, it ended promptly when he noticed some ice cream next to us – and the door to his soul shut again…for now.
I am beginning to pray for our next conversation like that one, that God would give me wisdom to bring it past where I am able.
Have you had questions from your kids that took you off guard?