“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)
The late Art Linkletter’s 1957 book, Kids Say the Darndest Things, still reminds us that kids not only say those things that sometimes embarrass their parents, but they also blurt out occasional pearls of wisdom that help us to realize we’re doing some right things with them. My wife, Robbie, recounted a conversation she had with her niece and nephew when they were very young. It reminded me of Linkletter’s book and underscored the importance of child-like faith.
She and her mother was taking her niece, Ashlyn, and nephew, Andrew, out for lunch and began to reminisce about their Great Grandmother, Viola, that had just passed away. “Grandma Viola died,” three-year-old Ashlyn said, “but she went to heaven”. Robbie asked her, “How do you know she went to heaven”? Ashlyn replied, “Because she died and I’m smart”. Her brother, six-year-old Andrew, then piped in, “You have to have Jesus in your heart to go to heaven”. Ashlyn agreed: “Well, I know Grandma went to heaven because she had Jesus in her heart and so do I”!
Indeed, kids do say the darndest things They are also as innocent and truthful today as they were when Linkletter wrote his book on the subject. Interestingly, a lot of adults think all you have to do to go to heaven is die. But Andrew went right to the heart of the matter. He knew in his heart that what Jesus said to his disciples is still true today: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” (John 14:6)
Andrew parents didn’t drill that truth in him, although they also believe it. He learned it in Sunday School, probably while he was coloring. Ironic, isn’t it? In today’s society, we repeatedly hear the contemporary parent say, “I want to let my child reach his own decision about what he believes”. Sadly, they freely admit their child wouldn’t know how to read if he didn’t attend school. Yet, they fail to see that he will never know what to believe if he is not exposed to it in our places of worship.
There is a message in this story for all of us. I know in my case, I am the Christian I am today because of the childhood that I was privileged to have lived. Much of my life was spent around godly people and many of their habits then are my habits today. It’s not just a verse in the Bible that says: “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it”. (Proverbs 22:6)
Jesus told us very clearly what he thought about such matters. “Let the little children come to me and do not forbid them,” he once said. “For of such is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 19:14)
As parents and grandparents, we must be careful to remember that age and maturity have nothing to do with the condition of the soul. God is providing us with a wonderful opportunity to teach spiritual truths to our children and grandchildren. If we seize that opportunity, the fruit we see in the lives of those children will bless us in ways we could never imagine.