As a boy, I could hardly ever sit still around the end of May. We were so close to the end of school (it was only a month away!), the weather was actually nice, and I was eager to do… whatever it is that I enjoyed doing back then. Probably reading a comic book under a tree.
These days, the tables are turned. My oldest daughter is now the one eagerly waiting for school to end (even though she loves it), and all my kids loooove playing outside.
Our baby even recently broke out of the house once to go outside and play. True story. (please don’t call the police.)
Naturally, with summer comes vacations and interruptions to the normal rhythms of life, and we can easily get off course in our discipleship of our children. They want to play outside, not do devotions at the dinner table.
So how can we use outdoor fun as an opportunity to teach our kids about Jesus? Here are three ways:
1. Go for a walk.
We’ve got a really nice nature path near our townhouse complex and the weather’s perfect for going on family walks. We show our kids all the different kinds of plants and trees around, they stare at the different kinds of bugs, and at least one of the kids eats some dirt.
As we walk, we talk about the diversity of God’s creation. He created all of these wonderful things we see — the plants, the trees, the flowers… all of it. We talk about how God loves beauty because he made flowers and sunsets beautiful. We want to give our kids a sense of the bigness of God’s creative work and this is a great way to do it.
2. Do some gardening.
My wife loves gardening (and I’m glad she enjoys it because I sure don’t); she finds it relaxing and she really loves getting the kids involved. Gardening presents us with more opportunities to talk about how the world works—and even about the curse.
A few weeks ago, we started growing some flowers and vegetables in our dining room with plans to move them into the garden as soon as we were sure we weren’t going to have any more snow. In late April, we figured it was nice enough to do it, planted our seedlings and called it a day.
Then the frost came and killed everything.
Despite this being annoying, it opened a door to talk about the curse, how because of sin, the earth fights against our work to grow anything. The frost comes and the sun scorches, snails and bugs eat our plants, and neighborhood cats pee on everything.
These frustrations allow us to tell them the world doesn’t work the way it should, that there is a problem in the world called sin. We can teach them God sent Jesus to die for the sins of the world and that eventually he will make the world new—a world where everything will work exactly the way it should. But for now we have to wait and do our rework in a way that pleases God.
Finally, there are times when the best thing we can do is remind our kids that God created everything–including fun!
Release the hounds! Let them play to the glory of God—and maybe get your feet wet at the splash pad while you’re at it.
Are these terribly creative ideas?
But that’s okay. Sometimes we forget the opportunities God puts right in front of us to teach our children about Himself and the world He has given us. So go for a walk with your kids; do some gardening—and for goodness’ sake, have fun! It may be the most important teaching you do with your kids all summer.