Because of the natural love a father has for his own flesh and blood, I want to do all that I can to ensure that by children will be in heaven. St. John the Evangelist put it this way: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4). For this reason, I have brought my children to Jesus through Holy Baptism, trusting that the Holy Spirit would thereby create faith in their hearts, forgive their sins, and grant them everlasting life. My continuing role as their father is to give them the Word of God and my own example of faith.
But time is limited. Not only the time I am at work, but also the time I spend getting ready for work and driving to work add up to a significant number of hours that I spend away from my family. Some days I get up at 3:30 a.m. and leave by 4:15 a.m.—while the children are still sleeping and my wife rises just in time to share breakfast. By the time work ends and I drive home, it is already 3 p.m. Although that leaves five hours until the children’s bedtime, I already am exhausted and still have farm chores.
What Precious Little Time I Have
When my children accompany me to the garden, we talk about God sending rain to make the plants grow. My son asks me why there are weeds, so I tell him about the curse recorded in Genesis 3:17-18: “Cursed is the ground for your sake. ... Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you.” Sometimes we just stop and pray.
As I read, I try to use different voices to act out Bible history. Sometimes the children ask a lot of questions.
Some evenings I read several Bible lessons, illustrating each one with colorful Sunday school posters that help my children stay attentive. As I read, I try to use different voices to act out Bible history. Sometimes the children ask a lot of questions. Other times I ask them to repeat what they have learned in their own words. These questions form a big part of their education—and mine. Sometimes I am surprised by what they know. Other times I am surprised by what they don’t know.
It’s most important that they know they can trust Christ, that Christ is loving and forgiving. I hope they see that faith is important. My mom was an example to me—praying, being spiritually minded. I want my children to see that I, like St. Paul, “am not ashamed of the Gospel” (Romans 1:16). Nor is God’s Word something to keep quietly to ourselves. It is so imporant that we want to share it with others and, if necessariy, to die for it. Faith in Christ leads my entire life to revolve around what God wants me to do. His laws are not some harsh set of rules from a dictator, but His laws are from a loving Father who knows what is best for His children. I hope I can get across to my children that their earthly father loves them, to help them see that a heavenly Creator-Father would also love them.
My Wife, an Evangelist in Our Home
At lunch time, while I’m at work, my wife opens the Bible and reads to the children—sometimes even for as long as a half hour. My wife also talks to our children about God’s Word throughout the day, such as when she disciplines them. Our family takes its cue from Deuteronomy 6:6-9, where God says:
These words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
It’s simply a matter of recognizing that God promises to bless us and our children through His Word.
It’s simply a matter of recognizing that God promises to bless us and our children through His Word. “Faith comes by hearing,” wrote St. Paul, “and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17). I want my children to hear the comforting message that God has rescued them from sin, Satan, and damnation through Christ Jesus. We read it. We teach it. We sing it. We live it. “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and other hymns derived from Holy Scripture remind us of who God is and Whose we are.
Leaving a Legacy
In a world obsessed with saving for retirement, or stashing away money in a college fund, Christians must take great care to stay focused on the “one thing needed,” listening to Jesus’ Word (Luke 10:42).
Their education begins now, with us, in our Christian home.
Our children’s education is not something we need to save for. Rather, Jesus has saved us and appointed us to raise our children in the instruction of the Lord. Their education begins now, with us, in our Christian home.
Our retirement is not something we worry about either. Rather, we hope in the Lord that at the end of our lives we, like Job, can see our “children and grandchildren for four generations” (Job 42:16). We desire to say with St. John, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (3 John 4).
May God so grant it, for generations yet unborn!
Mr. Emil B. Huntington is a Lutheran writer who lives in southwestern Wisconsin. His hobbies center around his wife and children, their adventures in home schooling, and their hope to leave a Christian legacy for future generations.