“Train up a child in the way they should go (and in keeping with their individual gift or bent), and when they are old they will not depart from it.”
— Proverbs 22:6
Nothing is more important to me than my faith in God. I was fortunate that both my parents and grandparents went to church and that was something we did every week. My dad sang in the choir (he had the most amazing baritone voice like Perry Como). You “youngsters” you would do well to check him out, he is a legend. I sang in Carol Choir (had my first solo at age 2 because they needed someone who could stay on pitch lol), sang in the Chorister Choir and was the accompanist for Chancel Choir. My sisters and I even played the pipe organ for church every week as soon as we were about 11 or so. You could say church was “built in” to the fabric of our household.
Every week I would hear the great Bible stories of the men and women who God used mightily and who had amazing faith. I learned how Jesus went about teaching, preaching, and healing every sickness and disease among the people. In summer, I couldn’t wait for Vacation Bible School! Ahhhhhh the games, the homemade cookies and the smell of the Kool-Aid wafting through the Parish Hall kitchen! What flavor would it be today? Our family would invite kids in the neighborhood that didn’t go to church, and we would take them with us. My mom said, “They need to know about Jesus too”.
Living in a small town we were blessed with great Pastors who knew the Word and could share it in a way that even I could understand at a young age. I went through Luther’s catechism (the proverbial “What does this mean?”) and I was confirmed on October 31st which was Reformation Sunday. This particular year it fell on the actual day of Halloween. I remember wearing the white robe that only came a little below my knees because I was so tall. I remember kneeling at the altar with the others waiting for Pastor Frerichs to lay hands on me. We all got to choose a scripture that was meaningful to us, and they prayed that over each one. To be honest I don’t remember the scripture I chose but what happened next, I remember like it was yesterday. After Pastor read my scripture, he then prayed Ephesians 1: 17-19 over me. As he laid hands upon my head, I felt the tangible presence of the Lord as he spoke the verse.
Ephesians 1:17-19 New International Version (NIV) says, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Then Pastor concluded with, “Stir up the gifts inside of her Lord.”
As a young girl I didn’t fully understand what was happening at the time, but I knew that I had had an encounter with the living God. I knew that this day was something that God had marked in my life. From that day on God has been faithful to reveal Himself to me ever since. I still pray this over myself, my husband, and my kids as well. The Bible says in Jeremiah 29:11-14 “For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I’ve been seeking Him ever since.
So, what does this have to do with faith? All these people helped me in the formation of my faith. They pointed me to the Word. They helped train me up in the way that I was to go. They spoke over my life, guided me, and helped along the way. I tell you this story because if you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or someone who has spiritual kids you can help someone in the development of their faith too. Even if you didn’t grow up with people in your life helping you, we have a helper, the Holy Spirit. He will you guide you into all the truth. God will meet you right where you are and give you a hope and a future.
Proverbs 22:6 in the Amplified Bible (AMP) says, “Train up a child in the way they should go (and in keeping with their individual gift or bent), and when they are old they will not depart from it.”
I love that the AMP says, “Train up a child in the way that they should go in keeping with their individual gift or bent”. As we saw in Ephesians, the first and most important thing is to KNOW GOD. Whether you are young or old the Apostle Paul said this was his life’s objective, his determined purpose. (Philippians 3:10) The second thing is that we would know the hope of our calling. Everyone has a purpose in the Kingdom of God. We all want to know why we are here and what we are supposed to do. Our true identity is in Christ and if we go looking for it anywhere else, we will take on a false identity and then wonder why we don’t feel fulfilled.
The last part of the verse says that “when they are old, they will not depart from it.” That doesn’t mean that we must wait until we’re 80 and we’ll be good. God’s desire is that we keep growing in our faith until Jesus takes us home. Even in heaven we will continue to learn and grow as well. It is up to us how much we want to grow and learn. As children we need spiritual food, the training of the Word to mature and grow up in the faith. That’s why the bible says we need milk to start. Then as we mature and grow in our faith, we need the meat of the Word. Someone could be an adult and still be spiritually a child if they have never known Jesus or grown in the Word. If that is the case, then maybe the person to help them grow is you! God’s will is that all people be saved and come to the knowledge of Him. (1 Timothy 2:4)
Here are some questions to ask yourself today: 1. Am I helping someone to build their foundation in Jesus? 2. Could I help someone to build their faith? 3. If so, who would that person or persons be? 4. Do I need a little help with my faith? 5. No matter my age is there someone who I know that can help me to strengthen my foundation?
Well, you say, I can’t do that. I don’t know enough Bible, or I don’t know how to do that. If you have a Bible, then you can be taught. Pray the Ephesians verse daily and watch the Holy Spirit teach you. My favorite version of the bible is the New King James (NKJ) Spirit Filled Life Bible. It is great for this. It has lots of amazing notes and definitions of words and applications for life. Start simple. Remember, if you are going to meet with someone, you don’t have to save them, Jesus did that by dying on the cross. You might be the one to plant a seed or two, or maybe you are the one that waters a little. We are here to share the good news and help encourage others to grow in their faith so that they will in turn do the same.
If it seems overwhelming or you don’t know where to start, start by picking one verse. Find a verse that applies to you. The Holy Spirit will give direction for your specific situation. The bottom line is God’s Word does not return void. Now that’s good news!
Say this with me: Father, in the Name of Jesus, we thank you that you have given us your Word to train us. May our determined purpose be to KNOW YOU. As we grow in our faith, help us to lead others to grow as well so that all people will come to the knowledge of the truth. Amen.