Miss Hazel, our three and a half year old granddaughter, now attends Preschool on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings at a Presbyterian Church in Augusta, Georgia. She's making friends, enjoying parties and snacks, getting practice at sharing and standing in line, doing crafts and art projects, learning numbers and colors, and even getting an introduction to Spanish. "Hola, Hub and NeeNee!" she said the other day, having already mastered, in a month, about as much of the language as I did in four quarters of it in college.
Each week, they focus on a single letter of the alphabet. A is for apple, aardvark, antelope, and angel. The next week, B is for banana, boy, baseball, and butterfly. Then, C is for . . . you get the picture.
Our son, Cole, knowing that F was the letter for the week prior, asked Miss Hazel what this week's letter was.
"The Bulldogs," she replied.
I know, bulldog should have been in week two with all the other B words. Unless you wear red & black on fall Saturday afternoons. Or if you, at age two, got to stay up late to watch part of the National Championship game this year and you cheered "Go, Broke Powers" when Brock Bowers scored a touchdown. Or, you have been doing the "Go Dawgs, sic 'em, WOOF, WOOF, WOOF, WOOF, WOOF!" kickoff cheer since you were 18 months old. Then, you know that a G always goes with Bulldogs.
"Train up a child in the way he should go," Proverbs 22:6 teaches us in the Old Testament. Oh, how proud we are that Cole and Alecia, our daughter-in-law, are doing just that.
Seriously, it is a powerful reminder of the role that parents and other adults play in the development of a child's faith and values. Our intentional instruction is important, for sure. But it's also practicing our faith that is important. Miss Hazel, you see, has caught as much, maybe more than, she's been taught about the Georgia Bulldogs.
Telling your kids and grandkids about Jesus is important. But taking them to church, letting them watch you worship as they hear you sing and see you bow your head in prayer, that sinks in deep in a different way. That's when they come to learn that your relationship with Christ really is important to you; it's not just something you talk about, but something you practice. It's not an idea or a theory, but a way of life.
I laugh about Miss Hazel and the Georgia Bulldogs. But, I really celebrate that she knows that Christmas and Bethlehem are about the Baby Jesus, that the Cross is about His love for her and the world, and that Easter is about the Resurrection. She knows Sunday is Church Day and she loves to read her Bible stories. Prayer is not just a few quick words before digging into a meal; it's something she does with her family every day. And she's learning, step by step, that this is truly the way in which her Mama and Daddy want her to go.