In the C.S. Lewis story The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Father Christmas shows up and gives some unexpected gifts to the four children. With each gift, he explains its purpose and use so that each hero will be prepared for what is coming. Then he concludes by saying,
In our day, we are guilty of doing the opposite. We give our children gifts with this hidden message, “These are not tools; they are toys. Have fun!” Consequently, we are not preparing them for what is to come. We put today’s happiness above their future survival, their effectiveness, and their purpose.
We are raising kids who do not know who they are, why they are here, or where they belong. When I was growing up, we called people like that “lost” and spent time and energy trying to get them “found.” The church today has its greatest harvest field of “lost” people right in our own homes.
Over the next few weeks, I want to encourage you to see that special events are opportunities to give our children tools that communicate identity, community, and purpose.
In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the LORD our God has commanded you?” tell him: We were slaves in the land of Egypt and the Lord our God brought us out with a mighty hand. (Deut. 6: 20)
Paraphrased: When your children ask you, “Why do we have these special events each year?” tell them what you know about it and include God in your explanation.
Maybe they will ask “Why do we celebrate birthdays? anniversaries? graduations?”Tell them why these things are significant for you.
Your interpretation of how God has worked in your life can be put together with a special event. Special times are important because they carry emotional weight. This emotional weight marks events and conversations with significance and makes them memorable.
Today, let’s just focus on a birthday as a special event, close and personal to a child. The next time a family member has a birthday, have a time that is just for family. Include a time to eat a special meal, share special memories, give family gifts, and end with a time of prayer for the birthday person. This does not have to be elaborate, nor overly serious, but it does need to be done.
In doing this, you communicate belonging, identity, and purpose.