Planting faith for the future

Published 8:36 pm Friday, April 19, 2013

By Chris Surber

I heard about this week’s bombings in Boston on the radio as I drove home from an appointment with my 5-year-old son. We listened quietly. A minute later he was silent, staring out the window. I asked if he was OK. As he turned I saw that tears were welling up in his eyes. He softly said, “Two people died today….”

I was almost immediately reminded of something Charles Spurgeon said about living in this often-cruel world: “A world where everything was easy would be a nursery for babies, but not at all a fit place for men.”

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Even my baby boy is faced with the pain of this tragic world. This world isn’t a nursery to keep him a baby forever. It’s a place where he will necessarily be shaped into a man. What kind of man? That’s largely up to me.

I talked to him about evil in the world, reinforcing things I’ve told him and his siblings a number of times. There is evil in the world. Some people are confused. Some people are very sad. Some people are full of hate and want to hurt other people to get their point across to the world.

He looked at me for a moment then said, “Yeah, Dad, that’s why we gotta tell people about Jesus and love people.”

Our children are often our greatest teachers. That’s because they are mirrors. Looking into their eyes, we see reflected the right or wrong attitudes that we have transferred from our hearts to theirs.

In their honesty and simplicity, my children are my greatest teachers. They remind me of truths I’ve instilled in them, and they instill conviction of those truths in me as I see them lived out in their lives.

Children carry our greatest aspirations and our worst qualities into the future. The bombing in Boston is a reminder that if I want to hand my children a better future, I’ve got to send my children into the future equipped with the tools to build it. Whom they become is largely up to their mom and me. I’ve got to surround them with Sunday school teachers, youth leaders, friends and family that affirm the truths that I instill in them.

One of the least cited and most important parenting passages in the entire Bible is found in Hebrews 11:21. Here the Bible records that “By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff.” (ESV)

In life, Jacob trusted God. He lived an example for his sons. As he prepared to die, he blessed the future through his grandsons, who became a blessing to Israel and through whom Israel became a blessing to the world.

I have hope for the future. I have faith in God and great trust in the abilities of my children and yours.

My son has become my teacher. In him, I am planting seeds for the future.

Chris Surber is pastor of Cypress Chapel Christian Church in Suffolk. Visit his website at