Trillia Newbell: Bringing up believers

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Monday, April 22nd. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from listener-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Bringing up children is one of life’s most rewarding and most difficult tasks. Trillia Newbell’s been thinking about how to bring up children who believe in God.

TRILLIA NEWBELL, COMMENTATOR: My pre-teen has always been a verbal processor. He never withholds a question or statement. Even at the tender age of 4, he would make it fairly clear what he was thinking.

And one of his inquisitions stands out above the rest. A quick drive across town turned into a life lesson—for me more than him.

I remember I began to speak about the Lord. I don’t remember exactly what I said, but it was definitely directed toward my son. It was probably something simple like, “Look how beautiful it is outside. Isn’t God good?”

Although I can’t remember the specifics of what I said, I will never forget my son’s response. “I don’t believe you,” he said.

“You don’t believe me?” I questioned.

“Where is God?” he asked insistently. “I mean, there’s Spiderman and Superman. Where’s God?”

Perplexed by the question from such a little lad, I began to jokingly pray silently: “Now would be a good time to show up in a burning bush, Lord.”

I didn’t know what to say. My son was equating God with his toy action figures. Those action figures were tangible to him. He could hold them and see them. They seemed real.

God was an abstract idea we talked about a lot—but someone he had never seen. My son’s beyond-his-years intellectual question made sense.

After a second of considering my words, I answered him, “Well, buddy, I can’t make God appear, but He is real. One day I pray that you will believe.” He said, “Okay,” and continued to play.

What was an innocent question from a sweet boy’s limited perspective turned into a massive gift to this mother. I realized at that moment that there was nothing I could ever do to give my son saving faith. My only job is to continue to share the gospel—the Good News—in word and deed. Then pray that the Lord would grant my son the faith to believe.

Ephesians 2:8 and 9 says only God can do that. He alone can transform my son’s heart so that he desires to live his life submitted to the Lord.

The pressure to try to save my children is off. I can’t. There’s nothing I can do to make them believe.

But what I can do is faithfully speak the truth—and live it out before them. I can answer God’s call to train up children in the way they should go (Prov. 22:6). I can wait patiently for Him to work.

It’s hard not to fear. But what I have come to rest in is that God is deeply invested in my children. He knit them together in my womb. He cares for them more than me. And my heart rests in knowing that not one prayer for my children goes unheard.  

For WORLD Radio, I’m Trillia Newbell.

(Photo/Creative Commons)

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