A few days ago while driving in the car my five year old informed me “today is the first of December.”
“Yes, and what happens in December?” I asked. After a short pause he replied “I don’t know.”
“December is when Christmas is. Christmas is in three weeks.”
After a moment of giddiness realizing Christmas was coming, he returned to his serious tone and said “Dad, Christmas is when we celebrate Jesus birth.”
“I know kiddo, Jesus is why we have Christmas” I responded, very thankful that he had put this together and wasn’t wholly focused on presents.
“I’m glad you know that dad. I didn’t think you believed in God”.
“What makes you think that?” Now he definitely had my attention and I was concerned.
“Because I don’t see you pray to God.”
It’s amazing how profound a child’s observation can be. He couldn’t observe a faith that showed a personal relationship with God and it blew me a way. The rest of the weekend I found myself trying to find ways to make my beliefs more evident to my son. When we’d sing a Christian song on the radio, I’d explain we were singing to God. And when it came to meals, I was the one praying.
We’ve gone to church nearly every week of his life, have our youth group over to our house, lead worship, and send him to a private Christian school. I’ve even taught him how to pray to bless the food, but none of this equaled a belief in God to him. He didn’t see me praying. It’s a very humbling and complex statement to look at from his perspective. Going to church, singing up front, etc. doesn’t equate to a belief in God. It’s just something to do like going to the park or shopping at the mall. Those things don’t represent a belief in or connection to God. How many times do we go through the motions of faith, without really having a personal belief?
As I thought about this more throughout the weekend, I began to analyze my personal devotion time. For a while now I’ve felt burned out and had set it on the back burner, feeling unmotivated to take the personal prayer and Bible study time each day. Church becomes habit and you start taking your faith for granted. Eventually it turns into one of those marriages where you “stay together for the sake of the kids”. Arguing constantly, never going out, and sleeping in separate rooms doesn’t fool anyone into believing you’re happily married anymore.
While no outsider would question my faith, it’s the opinion of one five year old that matters most and whose untainted vision of the world sees through any veneer. It was very important to him that I believe in God. He was relieved at my simple profession of “Jesus is the reason for the season” to know where I stood in this world. And now I’m challenged not only to make my faith as personal to me as his is to him, but also how to make it more observable in practice to those around me.