Several years ago I was struggling through some issues that left me feeling pushed back on my heels and unprepared emotionally. In the midst of those trials, I never really knew how I should respond: was it right to defend myself? Should I keep quiet? Would it be okay to engage in the conversation?
When I shared the details with my dear friend [and personal counselor] Lyndsey, she walked me through ways that Christ dealt with various circumstances and offered an idea that has stuck with me. With gentleness and love she said, “Jane, why don’t you spend some time in The Word and pick out one or two verses that deal with this struggle. Memorize them, then write them on a small piece of paper and keep it in your pocket. When you’re in the thick of it, reach in and feel that piece of paper and say the verse in your head. Pray that verse and pray that God would give you wisdom for your next steps.”
Genius, right? [that's why they pay her the big bucks ...err...why she'll have many jewels in her crown, I mean.]
I believe this same principle can be applied to our instructing our kids. This past week we picked up my daughter and her neighbor-friend from Sunday School class only to find their faces sagging in sadness. They explained that another little girl was unkind to them both; they replayed all the scenes for us, complete with the bucket-dipping conversations their Barbie dolls had. “What to do?” we wondered. “How to teach?”
It was perfect timing when my friend reminded me of For Instruction in Righteousness, by Pam Forster. It is a spiral bound reference guide that offers Bible verses in topical lists. For example, if you are dealing with anger in your heart or home, several verses are listed pertaining to anger. What about jealousy or tattling? Several more verses are listed for each of those issues. And for our situation, how do you deal with someone who has treated you poorly?
This same friend, my most wonderful neighbor, was gracious enough to have spent some time with our girls working through the Sunday-School-Barbie-doll-episode. My little one came home so encouraged and eager to know a verse that could help her!
To bring the application full-circle and back to “God’s-Word-In-Your-Pocket”, today after school my daughter and I are going to choose one verse from the section on dealing with injustice, write it on a piece of paper, work to commit it to memory, and then nestle it safely away in her pocket. My neighbor, instead of stashing a verse in her daughter’s pocket, has decided to have her write helpful verses in a journal so that she can work on them at home. Some of you may find that you could choose a verse from the 2 or 3 most challenging topics and work on them as a family, creating a chart or flash cards for your kids.
Whether you write them out, type them up, draw them, act them out, or pray them together at dinnertime, I am convinced that reinforcing the practicality and application of God’s Word is a powerful tool that will help them navigate the minefield of the heart for years to come. Don’t you agree?