by Gloria Furman
If you have children, you live with little theologians. You don’t need to have a degree from a seminary or Bible college to theologize. If you have thoughts about God, then that makes you a theologian. Children love to articulate their thoughts and questions about God. And nothing stretches my faith quite like talking with my children about their theology questions.
A Nasty Germ
This winter our home was afflicted with a vicious bacterial infection. Patient Zero was our youngest, who suffered a night of fever and vomiting but was bouncing around like Tigger before lunch the next day. Two days later, our middle child spiked a high fever and began vomiting. However, her fever didn’t break the next morning and the vomiting got worse. We live two blocks away from a clinic, so I gave her a quick piggyback ride to the doctor’s office. My normally doctor-phobic preschooler was too tired to be upset about having a pediatrician put a tongue depressor in her mouth. However, when he mentioned that he needed blood-work, the curtains pulled back for the drama.
At first it frustrated me that we had a half-hour intermission between Act 1 in the doctor’s office and Act 2 in the laboratory. Can’t we just get this over with? I reasoned. But God didn’t waste that half hour in my daughter’s life. In that span of time she asked me to pray with her, and to keep praying with her. What a blessing it was to have so much time to pray and to re-assure my child of the things she knows about God—that he is good and he cares for her.
After the blood test was all said and done, my little girl got her appetite back when she spied a brownie at the coffee shop downstairs. I obliged. Eating with a spork in her left hand, she held her right arm stiff out to her side, and stared at the tiny dot of blood in her Band-aid. With chocolate crumbs spraying from her mouth, she stated, “Thish hurtsh… but God ish wish me.” I nodded, “Yes, because he made you and he cares for you.” Fitting another spork-full of brownie in her already full mouth, she agreed, “Mhmm.”
A Time to Pray
A few hours after we returned from the pharmacy with prescriptions in hand, our oldest child spiked a fever and began vomiting. So I called the clinic, and let them know that I was on my way back with another kiddo. On the short walk to the doctor’s office I gave my daughter a heads up that she might have to do a blood test, too. We rode the elevator up to the clinic in silence, I signed her in on the clipboard, and we sat in the vinyl chairs next to an unoccupied fish tank. “You alright? Do you feel like you’re going to be sick?” “No, I’m just praying that I won’t get a needle.”
I put my arm around her shoulders as we waited for her name to be called. Remembering the events of the previous hour in the same doctor’s office, I was tempted to wax eloquent with some remarks about the free will of God in answering prayer. There’s a time and place for discussing the theology of prayer, but I discerned that this was a time to pray. I prayed that God would meet with my daughter in her hour of need and even spare her from the blood test if he so willed. I prayed that he would incline my heart to trust him wholly and that I would not lean on my own understanding. It’s a stretching place to be, trusting that God takes care of my children, and that he is doing all things for his own glory in their lives.
A Time to Theologize
It turned out that my daughter didn’t need to undergo the dreaded blood test, for which we were all thankful (especially the nurse who drew the blood for my first sick kiddo). We hit the busy downtown sidewalk for a repeat visit to the pharmacy.
Waving a handful of stickers in the air, my child shouted praises to Jesus for all to hear. “Thank you, Jesus, for being with me at the doctor office!”
At the breakfast table the next day, the cereal and plastic spoons were a’ flying. Everyone was on the mend! We were reviewing catechism questions when the subject of the blood test came up at Question 13: “Can God do all things? Yes, God can do all his holy will.” In their kindergarten-ish way, my girls talked about how God is in charge of everything and that he can be with the kids who get needles at the doctor’s office and with those who don’t get needles.
The impact of discussing theology day-in and day-out is anything but simplistic. Catechism questions and answers are succinct, but the way these truths work themselves out in our daily lives is prolific. This is true for our kids and for us big kids who need to cultivate a child-like faith.
Here are a few resources for more info about catechisms:
- Catechism for Young Children from Reformed.org
- Kathy Keller’s remarks on CYC and a pitch for the New City Catechism project
- New City Catechism blog
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gloria Furman (@gloriafurman) is mostly from Texas. In 2008 she moved to the Middle East with her husband Dave to plant Redeemer Church of Dubai. They have three fun kiddos and Gloria enjoys serving the ladies in her community as a doula. She is the author of Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home (Crossway 2013).