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Teaching wonder from a wonder-less perspective

A plate full of cookies and a glass full of milk. A midnight greeting for a jolly man bearing loads of gifts.

A tooth carefully placed under a pillow. Replaced with a coin (or two) by a tooth-collecting fairy.

Kids are fascinated at the wonder of these moments. We watch with amusement as they silently process. Creating connections and explanations based upon a logic known only to preschoolers. It isn’t difficult to allow a child the freedom to wonder. It’s a natural bi-product of this season in life.

Questions like … Is Jesus stronger than Superman? How did God get all those animals on the boat? Our preschoolers ask these questions with legitimate interest and wonder.

We can all agree that much of what fascinates a preschool child no longer fascinates us. What causes a preschooler to pause and wonder hardly interrupts our lives as adults.

Yet the wonder of God, how He created us and why He created us are foundational themes that our preschoolers need firmly rooted in their hearts. This is the foundation upon which a life-long pursuit of Christ is built. But teaching from a perspective of wonder is difficult when we’ve lost sight of this wonder ourselves.

Life has a way of slowly eroding our fascination with God. The loved one you faithfully fought in prayer for loses their battle with cancer. The career-moves you thought would procure financial freedom didn’t pay off. The senior pastor you highly respected has a moral failure. It seems the more life you experience, the less faith you have in the One who created it.

And as our preschoolers embark upon their own journey with Christ, the journey begins with an awe-inspiring view of God. How can we help parents foster the wonder of God in a preschooler when their sense of wonder has all but disappeared?

Here are four things I want parents to do in order to build a foundation of wonder in their preschooler. Help their preschooler …

  1. Love Scripture
  2. Know His promises
  3. Celebrate promises kept
  4. Speak promises not seen.

Love Scripture! Psalm 138:2 says, “For Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name.” And Psalm 119:9, 11 says, “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Thy word … Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee.” A few verses later, Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

An awe-inspired view of God begins with a love for His Word. I don’t believe it possible to stand in awe of God unless you read the Scriptures. I don’t believe there is ever a season in life where His Word is not applicable. Though different seasons might demand a different approach to the Word like focusing on a single book over an extended period of time, reading chronologically, reading only the gospels or reading from cover-to-cover, the common denominator is the focus on the Scripture. It’s a regular discipline that communicates more than one’s ability to read. Your daily focus on scripture elevates its importance in the life of your child.

Know His promises! 2 Peter 1:4 says, “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

If I don’t want to be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of my mind, then I’ve got to know the promises He gave me. A good friend reminds me often—at the end of the day, all we have are the promises of God. And God always keeps His promises. If I want to recognize how frequently God keeps His promises to me, I have to know those promises! If I don’t, they pass right by without my notice. What a tragedy. Yet I’ve found that when I am mindful of His promises then I’m quick to pray for them. 1 John 5:14-15 says, “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.”

Celebrate promises kept! Joshua 4:20 reads, “Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. And, he said to the sons of Israel, ‘When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed, just as the LORD your God had done to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, so that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Celebrating the promises God keeps is a critical discipline to keeping an awe-inspired view of God. Whether it’s a rainbow in the sky or fruit on a tree, I’ve got to verbally acknowledge His promises and God’s demonstration of faithfulness in my life. Each month we’re able to pay our bills, purchase food and meet the needs of our family AFTER we give the tithe. Sometimes it doesn’t look hopeful. Yet somehow God always makes the bottom line stretch further than we imagined it could. There are plenty of months when I let that simple truth pass by without acknowledgement. However, the times I am most inspired by His faithfulness are the times I stop and say thank You for providing in ways I don’t even know.

Speak promises not seen! Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

The most important muscle to exercise for a Christ-follower is the faith muscle. Faith believes in things unseen. In fact, Hebrews 11 is a compelling reminder that we cannot attempt to explain things based upon our own understanding. From Noah to Abraham to Sarah to Moses, we see consistent demonstration of faith based solely on God’s promises. I have nothing to found this on other than God’s Word. He promises me that if I delight in His law and meditate on it, then I will bear fruit at the right time … if I train up my child in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it … by His scourging I am healed. This means I can’t explain everything that happens this side of heaven. All I can do is return to who God is, the promises He made, and speak them aloud.

2 Chronicles 20 is a great picture of King Jehoshaphat reminding himself of the promises of God. At first read, it’s tempting to believe Jehoshaphat is reminding the Lord of the promises He made. But if you look closely, you’ll notice it’s really Jehoshaphat reminding himself of the God he serves. With each verse, the king refreshes his memory that he serves the One, True, Living God who keeps His promises. Taking a cue from Jehoshaphat, verbalize the promises of God—promises kept and promises not yet seen. Your faith will build, your awe will increase and you’ll find it easier to invest in the simple, unhindered wonder of a preschooler.