By Rhonda Rhea
“Watch me, Mom!” That’s kid language. When translated
into parent language, it means, “Get ready to dial 911.”
Isn’t it amazing how hard our children sometimes work to
impress us? “Watch me, Mom! I can do a flip off the top
bunk!” “Watch, Dad! I can ride my bike off the porch
with no hands!” There was a period in our lives when my
husband and I had the neighborhood ER keep a form ready for us
at all times. I simply filled in relevant information (which kid,
which body part) upon arrival. I often worried that I would get
home from a hospital run and find a social worker at my front
“Can you tell me, Mrs. Rhea, how your daughter managed
to injure herself on a stationary bike?” “And,
tell me, Mrs. Rhea, exactly who stuck the jelly bean up the nose
of your three-year-old?”
I was at a church fellowship recently when, over the tumult,
I heard one of the kids yell, “Watch me!” The head
of every parent jerked in that direction, and the entire room
gasped as if on cue. The only thing that would have made it funnier
would have been a synchronized cell phone grope. Maybe we could
have harmonized our 911 dial-ups.
We’re instructed to be watchful in Colossians 4:2: “Devote
yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Watchfulness,
thankfulness, and prayer—all packaged together. Who would’ve
thought those three things would fit together in such a nice set?
Yet there they are! And as we devote ourselves to prayer, we find
ourselves being more watchful—becoming more aware of what
the Lord is doing. Every time we recognize the good things he’s
doing, we find more reason for thanks.
The Message puts Colossians 4:2 this way: “Pray
diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude.”
It’s not one of those “eyes wide open to see how many
stitches might be required” watches, but rather staying
connected to the Father in prayer and being alert to everything
he’s doing, ever ready to offer him thanks for whatever
that might be.
First Thessalonians 5:17–18 (MSG) says, “Be cheerful
no matter what; pray all the time; thank God no matter what happens.
This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”
We’re given more “watching” instructions in
Ephesians 5:1–4 (MSG). “Watch what God does, and then
you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their
parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him
and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love
was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order
to get something from us but to give everything of himself to
us. Love like that.” It’s like our Father shouting
to us, “Watch me!” We’re instructed to watch
and to imitate him and to let that lead us to live a life of love.
By the way, there’s no need to work to impress our heavenly
Father by flying off bunk beds or cycling off porches. Staying
on track means being focused on the direction he lays out before
us and understanding that we can travel that road of purpose without
worrying that we need to earn his love. We can simply be thankful
for his ever-present, boundless love and his astounding grace!
Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your
hearts. … And be thankful.”
On a little side note, we can also be thankful as parents for
every day that’s “ER free.”
Sadly, there really are emergency situations in scores of homes
across our country. These are emergencies that have nothing to
do with bunk beds or bikes. They stem from parents who are setting
poor examples for their children—or no examples at all.
The result is children who learn from other children, from TV,
from every messed-up source out there. It’s catastrophic
for this generation and directionless generations to come.
Parents need to be able to shout a big “watch me!”
right back at their children.
When asked how parents can succeed in raising children to love
Jesus, author and family advocate Dr. James Dobson suggests a
“watch me” kind of parenting:
The best approach is found in the instruction given to the
children of Israel by Moses more than four thousand years ago.
He wrote, “Impress them on your children. Talk about them
when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when
you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your
hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes
of your houses and on your gates” (Deut. 6:7–9).
This commandment provides the key to effective spiritual training
at home. It isn’t enough to pray with your children each
night, although family devotions are important. We must live
the principles of faith throughout the day. References to the
Lord and our beliefs should permeate our conversation and our
interactions with our kids. Our love for Jesus should be understood
to be the first priority in our lives. We must miss no opportunities
to teach the components of our theology and the passion that
is behind it.*
Let’s make finding those opportunities a high-priority
goal. Time in the car, trips to the grocery store, vacation, school
shopping—even time in the ER waiting room—can become
time well spent when we’re using every opportunity to deposit
wisdom and a passionate love for Jesus in our kids.
Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on
your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside
your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at
home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time
you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night.
Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe
them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.
Deuteronomy 6:7–9, MSG
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