Shooting stars…you never know when they may streak across the sky. They can appear out of nowhere. The same holds true for teachable moments so I’ve learned to look for them.
Several years ago, my son rescued a brown Labrador while in Pennsylvania. He named him River, and brought him home to our family in New Hampshire. Carter and Sophia (ages 6 and 4 at the time) fell in love with River and welcomed him with joy and excitement. In the summer of his second year with us, River contracted a blood disease from a tick. We spent time and money on treatments and a transfusion, hoping for a cure. Our church and friends prayed for healing, but River eventually passed away.
Shortly after his death, Sophia was riding in the backseat of our car and, after a long silence, asked me, “Do you have a Dad?” I replied, “Yes, but he died.” That led to a long conversation about River, death, heaven, and God. She asked if I was sad about my dad and wanted him to come back. I told her that I missed him but I was glad he wasn’t suffering anymore. I explained that sometimes God takes things away, but even so our prayers were answered because River was no longer in pain.
Later that day at our house, Sophia’s dolls started “dying and going to heaven,” where they were being healed by God and returning to life. It was a child’s way of processing some very deep, spiritual issues. Even young children ponder the deeper things of life. Ecclesiastes 3.11 says, “(God) has set eternity in our hearts…” It is sometimes our privilege to lead our grandchildren into new depths of faith.
Many of the questions you will be asked by your grandchildren are ones you have already asked and answered for yourself. If you are like me, you need to trust that you will find instant wisdom when you need it. God will supply it. He will use you. He has put you in the position of grandparent for a reason.
You have something else as well–the trust of your grandchildren. They look to you for wisdom and guidance. Even if that guidance is a story rather than some grand “lesson,” they will listen and begin to live it out themselves.
For example: in the clutter of kids’ lives, they will often lose something. I have taught them to stop and pray for God’s help in finding the lost item. “God knows where it is,” I remind them. Then we pray and resume our search. This has been my practice since my own children were small. I estimate that in all those years our success rate in finding lost items is around 90%.
Watch for those shooting stars, those teachable moments…they can appear out of nowhere.
Greg Lull is the grandfather of five and a retired pastor living in Dover, New Hampshire.