As a dad, I am always looking for ideas to make our faith talks at home memorable and practical. I define a “faith talk” as a time set aside each week for intentional family time centered around the teaching of the Bible. Throughout the years I have lead some really terrible faith talks and some really good ones. I am always on a quest for good ideas to have fun around the truth of the Scripture.
As my kids are getting older Angela and I are having to make a faith talk transition. 20 minutes in the family room with balloons, toothpaste, or shaving cream and a nifty song just isn’t working for us at the moment. We are finding experiential faith talks are the best kind for our children who are easing toward the preteen years. Whenever I can find a way to make our faith talk and adventure the girls seem to connect with the truth of God’s word.
This weekend we left Katy on Sunday afternoon and headed to Stephen F. Austin state park just 25 minutes west of Katy and found just what I was looking for. In the back of the park along the Brazos river, there are about 2 or three miles of hiking trails in the woods. The perfect spot for our adventure.
I wanted to teach our girls that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He leads us along paths of righteousness for His namesake (Psalm 23). We got out of the car in our hiking garb and with our favorite Gatorade beverages and headed down the trail. The girls jumped out in front of me, headed into the woods. I let them go for a little bit and then I asked them a question. “Where are you going?” They came back toward me and said, “We don’t know.” “Good point,” I said. Here was lesson number 1: When the sheep get a head of the shepherd they get lost. We talked about how Jesus as our Good Shepherd, leads us “the sheep” in the right direction so we know which way to go. In life, Jesus has given my girls parents, undershepherds of sorts, to lead them in the way they should go.
So we started again. This time, I went first, then the girls followed. We talked about how easy it is to know where you are going if you trust the shepherd in the front of the line and keep your eyes on him. Here was lesson number 2: How do you keep your eyes on the Good Shepherd? We stopped as they thought and then they talked about prayer and reading the Bible. “Great,” I said. “Let’s Go!”
I found a steep embankment leading from the trail down to the river. Conveniently a thick vine was growing by the trail perfectly placed as a rope to lower yourself down to the river’s edge. I decided to lead my girls to a place they would not want to go. I started down the embankment and they both balked. I convinced them I would help them on the hard parts. One at a time with squeals of fear the lowered themselves down with dad as a safety net. Here was lesson 3: Sometimes the Good Shepherd leads you through the scary places for His Namesake. We skipped rocks as we talked about how God as our Good Shepherd helps us through the scary places. We discovered that it is great to have Jesus as the Good Shepherd especially when the path is scary.
The rest of the time we threw rocks, swung on vines, and just had fun. God blessed us with a special moment. We saw an 8 point buck and 9 doe just before dark. To the girls, our faith talk was an adventure in the woods. I bet, if you asked them, they could tell you a lot about what it means to follow the Good Shepherd.
Try this one out. I think you will be glad you did.