Monday, July 28, 2008

The Cross

As a parent it is fun when you recognize those “teachable” moments with your kids. Dominic took an opportunity with Gabriel recently and I wanted to share it with you.

Gabriel for some reason has always had a fascination with crosses. We have this huge, beautiful wooden cross at the back of our church. There are many Sunday mornings that you will find Grandpa Smith at the alter after church holding Gabriel up so that he could see the cross up close. He loves that cross. I wish I could describe the look on his face when he sees it – it is awe, a wonder almost.

We have coloring books filled with pages with nothing but crosses on them. Mostly blue ones, but big ones and small ones. When he couldn’t draw them he would have us draw them for him. He would point somewhere and say “Draw a cross here”, over and over again until the pages were filled.

His Grandpa Johnson brought him a colorful cross home from Nicaragua after a mission trip there and Gabriel would carry that cross around with him. Just fascinated with crosses.

Not far from our home on our commutes to church and to see family we pass this hill on the interstate. Recently someone put a cross up on that hill. It is a plain and simple wooden cross, but beautiful non the less. Every time we drive by it Gabriel points it out to us.

Dominic must have taken an opportunity on one of those drives to talk to him a little more in depth about what that cross stood for. We hadn’t discussed that he did this, but we were headed to church this week and came up on the cross. Gabriel pointed it out and Dominic started asking some “follow-up” questions.

“Gabriel, what happened on the cross?” “Jesus dies on the cross” he replied. “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross Gabriel?” “So we can go to Heaven”. Then in the sweetest, almost sad voice Gabriel says “Why Mommy, why did Jesus have to die? It makes me so very sad that he had to have big owies”. It was the most beautiful thing I could have heard that morning. A child’s view into something that even I at times can’t understand.

How do we explain to Gabriel the enormity of the gift that we have been given? The fact that in spite of who I am most of the time, the bad choices I make, the attitudes I carry, my daily choice of self-will, that over 2000 years ago God loved me enough to send His son into this world for me, to carry my sin upon that cross and suffer for me that if I choose Him, believe in Him, love Him and follow Him I will receive that reward with Him in Heaven.

It is almost too overwhelming to really understand. For now we can do our best to teach our children to love God. Gabriel will someday understand in his own way what the cross really means to him. For now it is a thing of wonder, of beauty and at times of sadness. For now – that is enough. I like that verse from Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That would be my prayer for our kids, that regardless of where life takes them – that the knowledge of the God that loves them will be with them and will be their strength through it all.

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