It happened years ago but I still remember it today with crystal clarity. We were at the pool enjoying a warm summer day. Jacob, who is my son on the moderate end of the autism spectrum, was joyfully walking around the edge of the pool holding a small plastic ball in his hands. I turned to grab some sun tan lotion. It was only a couple of seconds that I had my back to the pool. Seconds. And I heard it:
It took me three strides to reach the pool, dive in, and snag Jacob by his shirt, pulling him from the water. Apparently Jacob had accidentally dropped his ball in the water, reached for it, and as a result fell into the water. Jacob could have drowned in a matter of minutes because he did not know how to swim.
That day I decided to become intentional about making sure he knew how to swim. His life might depend on it.
Swimming lessons became important to Jacob in order to help him gradually become more and more safe in the water. It took some effort to find someone who taught kids with special needs. And yes, it was a hassle for us to have to take the time to drive him to the lessons. In addition, it was a financial sacrifice for us due to the cost of the lessons.
But the result was worth it: he learned how to swim!
And so it is with the development of faith with our children. Without teaching them the foundations of our faith, we’re leaving it up to them to figure how “swim” through life. As parents of children with special needs we cannot toss our kids into the deep end of the pool of life and expect them to know how to swim. We cannot count on them knowing how to paddle to the side safely when the waters of life become turbulent.
Conclusion: I need to become just as intentional about my child’s faith.
If I’m going to be totally honest and open with you then I have to admit that I’ve done a poor job at being intentional at developing my son’s faith. I could give you some excuses:
- Life often feels overwhelming.
- Parenting a child with special needs is tiring,
- My son has intellectual disabilities.
But deep down I know they’re just excuses.
I eliminated any and all excuses to ensure that my son learned how to swim because I was concerned for his physical well being. Shouldn’t I be just as intentional about eliminating any and all excuses when it comes to his spiritual well being?
The answer, of course, is “yes.”
I love the reminder that Michelle Anthony shares from her book, Spiritual Parenting:
“Parents are, by the power of God’s Spirit, to depend on God in order to create home environments that God can use to beckon our kids to Him.”
It doesn’t matter whether your child is typically developing…or not. God wants parents, with Him, to be intentional about their faith development.
I hope you’ll join me on this journey of discovering how to be a more intentional parent. I can’t think of a better time of year to start than Christmas…the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ…to start teaching a child about faith and a Father’s love.
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