The Encouragement I Needed

By Carrie Ward

On the day I started out to read the entire Bible with my three children, I was euphoric. This was going to be great. I sat down at breakfast and read, “In the beginning God created . . .” Somehow, naively, I expected my children, the oldest of them only four years old, to share my enthusiasm. I expected them to be filled with wonder. I expected them to be wowed by the reading of God’s Word. I expected them . . . to listen. What was I thinking?

My first three mornings went something like this.

“‘Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts.’”

“Can I have some more toast?”

“Uh sure, just a second. ‘By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.’”

“Are we gonna have to take a nap today?”

“Yes! God rested, and so should you. Where was I? ‘Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it—’ Where are you going?”

“I need to wash my hands.”

“Can you wait just a minute?”

“Sticky! I’m sticky!”

It was a scene made for YouTube. While I was reading about the Fall of man, my little ones were spinning in their chairs, standing in their chairs, and asking questions not at all related to Adam and Eve. I thought, I am reading out loud to myself. This might not have been a bad thing, but it was not exactly what I had in mind.

Our trip through the Bible began with me wondering what in the world I had undertaken. Could I do this without lots of pictures? Would they ever be able to listen, or at least be still—or even just be quiet? God was merciful, and He did not leave me in this predicament for long.

On day four I reached the story of Cain and Abel. Mind you, while I read, the children were as wiggly and talkative as ever. The story was chopped in pieces as I stopped to answer unrelated questions or jumped up to get more food. Once the reading and waffles were behind us, I sent Graham and Maggie off to play in the living room while I began cleaning up. But before I finished clearing the dishes from the table, I realized what it was they were playing. They were “playing” Cain and Abel.

I watched them take turns playing the part of Cain. They would walk off in the “field” together, and Cain would whack Abel over the head with some sort of invisible farm implement. This may not sound like the sort of interaction a mom should be excited to see between her children, but I was thrilled. They were listening! Whether or not they intended to listen, they had definitely heard the story in great detail.

From that point on, I didn’t obsess over trying to get them to hang on every word. I did try to teach them to sit still, be quiet, and pay attention, but each morning as they were smacking, squirming, and blurting, I knew they were also hearing. They were hearing the Word of God. This was what I wanted, because if I could read God’s Word and they would hear it, God could use it to change their hearts. This was the encouragement I needed to keep going. And keep going we did.

from Together: Growing Appetites for God

Originally posted 12.02.2012 at