As I told you last week, I spent the week taking my daughter to hockey camp. She spent six hours every day last week doing something related to hockey. Of that six hours, she only spent 2 1/2 hours on the ice. Much of the rest of the time was spent doing dry land training.
Dry land training is where the kids strengthened their muscles and their skills off the ice. At my daughter's age, that consists of playing games and working on stick handling and agility. As the kids get older, they focus on training their muscles and building their endurance by doing things like running stairs.
Dry land certainly isn't the most fun part of training to play hockey, but it is necessary. The things the kids did off the ice got them ready to play on the ice.
Our spiritual walk is much like training to play hockey. We can be actively involved in ministry and in living our lives as God wants us to. We can put up a good front and never spend any time alone with God. From the outside, it looks like we have a close relationship with God, but on the inside, we're just skating by on what we already know. We're not growing in our relationship with Him because we're not spending any time with Him.
In hockey, your game won't get any better if you don't spend time off the ice perfecting your skills and training your muscles. When faced with the pressure and intensity of a game, you won't have enough knowledge or skill to win.
In life, if you aren't filling yourself up daily with God's word and spending time with Him, then when faced with the pressure and intensity of life, you will falter and fall. Psalm 119:58 says "I have sought your face with all my heart; be gracious to me according to your promise." If we're not spending time with God each day, then we're not seeking His face with our whole hearts like David.
God called David a man after His own heart. We want to follow in those footsteps and become men and women after God's own heart. The only way to do that is to spend time getting to know God's heart.
Spending time with God is a habit -- one we have to take the time to cultivate. It's important that we spend time with God every day, and it's important that we teach our kids to spend time with God every day.
- Set aside a time in each day that will be your family's quiet time. Our time is in the morning before school.
- Get your kids an age-appropriate devotional book and Bible. There are some great versions of the Bible out there, but my favorite for elementary school-aged children is the New International Reader's Version (NIrV). It's written in an easy-to-read style for kids without watering down the Word. It's a full Bible. It just doesn't have a lot of the really big words.
- Talk with your kids about the importance of spending time with God every day. Get three pictures -- one of their best friend, one of someone you see a couple of times a year and one of their favorite sports star, movie actor, or singer. Ask them to tell you how well they know each person. Ask them if they know that person's favorite food, favorite TV show and favorite color. Explain that the more time they spend with a person, the better they know them. We know about the celebrity, but we don't know the celebrity. We have never met them or spent any time with them. We know a little bit more about the acquaintance that we see a few times a year, but we don't know them intimately. Your child will probably be able to tell you all sorts of things about her best friend because she knows that person well. She spends lots of time with her. Explain that the same is true with God. We can know all about Him and never spend any time with Him. To know Him, we have to talk with Him and listen to what He has to say to us. We have to understand who He is and how He wants us to live. If we love Him, we'll want to spend time with Him. We want God to be like our best friend, someone whom we know intimately.
- Spend time with God yourself. The more connected you are with God, the better you are able to parent your children and help them create a relationship with God.
We can go through life, just skating by on what we already know about God, but that creates a shallow relationship with Him. When we hit the thin ice in our lives, we'll know we haven't trained hard enough off the ice to survive the intensity of being on it.
Let your relationship with God bring you strength for the intense moments in your life. Spending time with Him every day means you let Him fill you up with grace and strength so you and your kids can get in the game and face head-on any challenges that come your way during the day.