At a recent virtual staff meeting with my co-workers, our boss asked what was one silver lining of the pandemic. Nearly every person said some version of, “More time with family.”
That was my answer too. I’ve been allowed to work from home since the pandemic began, which has made me available for drop-in visits from my 1-year-old son, mid-day chats with my wife and news updates from my older boys as soon as they get home from school.
But perhaps the biggest blessing has been a habit I started on the weekends with my older boys, ages 11 and 7. Every weekend, I do an early morning Bible study with one of them—first my older son and then, the following weekend, my younger son.
I thought this would be another chore for them—something they resisted, like cleaning their rooms. But instead, they get up early and come find me. This past weekend, my 7-year-old came down the stairs at 6:30 am, carrying his blanket in one arm and the Random House Book of Bible Stories in the other.
We used to do weekend Bible studies more sporadically by going to Starbucks or a breakfast joint together. So during the pandemic, I’ve tried to keep a little bit of that special feeling by making them tea with milk and sugar and, occasionally, some cinnamon toast. But sometimes, the boys forget to even ask about that. They’re just eager to study the Bible. And the more consistent we’ve been with it, the more they seem to look forward to it.
I follow the ABC Bible study pattern with them—Analyze the text, pick a Best verse, then make a Commitment based on that verse. Some people who grew up with this pattern of Bible study hate it. I didn’t grow up with it, but I’ve used it for the past 20 years to avoid a problem I can easily fall into—talking about the Bible and the theology of it, but failing to respond by asking God to make me a doer of the word and not a hearer only.
Doing these Bible studies while also being at home more has given me new insight on Deuteronomy 6:5-7. It says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”
I always understood this text as an admonition to talk about the Bible constantly to your family. And it is that. But if that was the only point, Moses could have simply said “teach without ceasing” or something like that. Instead, he took the time to describe each part of a typical day—when you’re resting at home, when you’re out doing activities (“walk by the way”), when you’re going to bed and in the early morning. He’s saying we’re to teach our children God’s commandments as we do life, showing them not only what God says but also how we apply those words in day-to-day living.
During a recent study of Psalm 15, my older son and I both picked verse 3 as our Best verse. It comes as an answer to the question of verse 1, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?” Verse 3 answers that it is the one “whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbor, and casts no slur on others.”
My son’s commitment? Criticize his brother less—even when his brother doesn't do what he wants.
My commitment? Avoid criticizing my boss—even when she doesn't do what I want. She is reorganizing our department, requiring everyone to reapply for redefined jobs. But none of the new jobs is very similar to my current job. So I must find something different soon or I’ll be out of work.
In both situations, it’s easy to utter “slanders” or “slurs.” But my son and I both committed to ask God to help us trust Him to work things out. Together, we are learning from God’s word that He has a better way for us to live.