Walking Our Children through the Garden
They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:8-13 (NRSV)
I remember that as a young boy, I tried to lie to my parents a few times (let’s not define “few” today). It never ended well. Trust was broken, regret set in and apologies seemed worthless. Over time my love for my parents and for God, overcame my fear of coming clean and eventually helped me overcome many sinful habits that created the problem in the first place. I am eternally grateful for a father who walked with me through those years with love, patience and wisdom. His willingness to walk through the Garden with me, asking me questions about motivation and identity, set a mark for me to shoot for as a father.
Here is one of the challenges of fatherhood that can lead our children to a blessing: communication. It is incredible how little communication goes on today with all of the technology available; so much noise, so many words and so little content. We are slowly and surely loosing the art and beauty of conversation. My father is not a man of many words, but the words he speaks have meaning and purpose, and he still asks me the right questions. I want to ask my children the right questions too, and give them the right answers to the questions they bring my way.
Sometimes it is hard to ask a question you don’t really want to hear the answer to, but know you need to hear it. It starts with simple questions like, “Did you write on daddy’s nice pants?” and progresses to, “Did you cheat on the test?” and may move to, “Did you drink at the party you were at instead of sleeping over at your friends?” We will hear all sorts of excuses, very similar to Adam and Eve’s, but in the end the goal is not to find out what they did wrong, it is to get them pointed toward doing right. That is the hard part for me – a short fuse. My anger wells up too easily and it squashes communication without fail.
All the texting, Facebooking and emailing in the world cannot replace a word of comfort or compassion in a difficult moment. Children need to know they can talk to us, so we need to be very careful how we talk to them. God was certainly not pleased with Adam and Eve, and He lets them know in clear terms, but He doesn’t destroy them. God provides them another chance. He could have ended it right there with Adam and Eve, snuffed ‘em out and tried something else, but they were His children. He kept the conversation going and it has continued ever since then, passed down generation to generation.
We have the challenge and blessing of entering that conversation with our children. Pray today for the opportunity to communicate with your children. Pray for the wisdom to answer their questions in a godly way. Seek opportunities to talk to your kids about things they love. Let’s continue the conversation.