Essays on Faith: Reading, writing, arithmetic and lessons about God

Several years ago, when our granddaughter was in the fifth grade, Mr. H. and I had the pleasure of collecting her after school a few evenings a week and keeping her at our house until her mother returned from work.

Only two days after school started that year, Karen announced that she absolutely loved school. Instead of coming in as she had in the past, ready to throw her books down, have a snack, talk to friends on the phone or watch TV, she now went straight to the kitchen table, opened her books and proceeded to tell us what she’d learned that day. Her sustained enthusiasm after seven hours in a classroom was incredible.

The first few days, she wanted to show off her newly acquired math skills. Math had never been her strong suit, but this year, her eyes had suddenly been opened to a new understanding. With the help of a very good teacher, she was “getting it” at last, and better yet, she enjoyed it.

She read to me while I cooked dinner and did it as if she were still in the classroom. One day, when I suggested that she lower the volume, she said, “My teacher said to read so the whole class can hear you.” I reminded her that we were alone in my small kitchen and that I would hear her just fine if she lowered her voice a decibel or two.

Out of the blue, she was excited about windmills. Her eyes widened as she told us about an increasingly popular alternative source of energy that can be provided by a type of windmill that harnesses the wind. But her excitement was dampened by sadness as she remembered that there is something bad about windmills; birds get caught in them and are killed. And then, she surprised me with this inquiry, “Why does God let bad things happen to the little birds?”

My responsibility was suddenly very clear. Since our children cannot have questions about God answered in school, it’s up to their parents and others around them to make sure they obtain that very important part of their education. The Bible instructs parents to teach their children about the ways of God.

In Deuteronomy 11:19, the Bible says to teach children about God’s laws in numerous ways, such as talking about God’s laws “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Teaching a child about God can result in a lifelong relationship between the child and God. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Children are little sponges, soaking up everything they see and hear. This is a prime age to teach them about God. I’m so grateful that I had godly parents who took me to Sunday School from the day I was born. They had prayer meetings at our home with other church members, prayed often in my presence and gave me my own Bible when I was 5 years old. The first page inscription delighted me. It read: To Peggy — With love from Mother and Daddy.

I had access to the family Bible, too — a smorgasbord of words and colored pictures that intrigued me and kept me busy for quite a while.

I loved this Big Book!

I’d awaken before my parents on Saturday mornings and lose myself in its pages. I treasured this Saturday morning routine.

We were thankful for our granddaughter’s enthusiasm about school. It gives everyone hope for the future of our country to see youngsters excited about learning new things. The next generation of government leaders, doctors, psychologists and other professionals will arise from this generation. In addition, there will be lawyers, judges and law enforcement officials to deal with today’s worsening breakdown in society.

Also important is the fact that religious leaders of tomorrow will come from the children of today. That’s why it is truly a privilege to have the responsibility of teaching children about God, whether as a parent, aunt, uncle, grandparent or friend. The children God has placed in our care need encouragement and an example of godly living so that they, too, may grow into godly men and women. It is hard to imagine a more important task than this.

Let us begin by stressing that while reading well, attaining new math skills and learning about alternative energy are all very important, nothing else quite compares to the excitement of learning about God and the rewards that are possible by knowing Him!

Peggy Toney Horton lives in Nitro.

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