Doing family devotions can be so frustrating at times!
My daughter, Charis, is three, and she has the attention span of a three year old, which is somewhere between 4-7 seconds depending on whether or not Curious George is in front of her. We sit on the couch and read The Big Picture Story Bible, her tiny body wedged between Jen and I, and during devotions I do everything in my power to keep her interested and focused on the Bible. I ask her questions about the story. I make her repeat words after me (“Charis, can you say ‘infralapsarian’?”). I make my voice loud, then soft, then loud again.
But in spite of all my efforts, Charis is always very, very distracted. We sit down to read her Bible and she suddenly remembers that she needs her special blanket made out of frizzy cloth. So she runs and gets her blanket while I wait. Then, after just a minute of reading, she decides that she needs some water and a tissue. A few moments later she goes into “monkey mode” and starts climbing on the back of the couch and the top of my head.
It is a serious effort to make it through four pages of a highly illustrated Bible story! After we’re done with the story I’ll ask her a follow up question like, “Charis, who killed Goliath?” She’ll think for a moment, then say, “D…D…Donavan?”
Great job Stephen. Way to instruct your daughter and help her understand God.
I think I would probably be discouraged with the results of our family devotions if I didn’t have my experience and God’s word to rely upon. These two witnesses tell me that God uses faithful efforts, even if the results seem pathetic. For example, when I was younger my dad used to read the Bible to me and my siblings every morning after we woke up. During devotions I liked to sprawl on the couch with my eyes closed, which inevitably led to me and my dad having the following argument:
DAD: Stephen, I want you sit up and open your eyes.
ME: Dad I can listen just fine while I’m laying down.
DAD: But you’re falling asleep. I want you to sit up.
ME: But it’s so uncomfortable sitting up on the couch!
DAD: Okay, you can lay down if you keep your eyes open.
This conversation was often repeated multiple times during devotions. And yet, in spite of my devotional drowsiness and inability to pay attention, God used my dad’s faithful efforts to bring me and my siblings to salvation. If my dad had evaluated the effectiveness of devotions based upon our responses, he probably would have given up. But he didn’t do that. He kept at it, knowing that God had called him to faithfully train his children in the fear of the Lord.
So when I’m talking about Jericho and Charis is talking about puppies, I don’t let myself get discouraged. Instead I remember that God uses what is weak, yet faithful, to bring him glory.