Is Religion Good for Growing Kids?

4934176625_fd548deea7_m“Religiously aware adolescents who feel connected to a higher power are 40 percent less likely to abuse substances, 68 percent less likely to battle depression, and 80 percent less likely to engage in at-risk sexual behavior.” It surprised me recently to read this information on RealClearReligion.com.

The statistics come from the work of Lisa Miller of Columbia University. She is quoted in an article, “Spiritual IQ In A Secular Age” by Betsy VanDenBerghe, and carried on Real Clear Religion during the last week of April, 2016.

My experience makes this information seem plausible. Still I was surprised to see it because up until the 1970s or thereabouts adding spiritual aspects into this human developmental research was viewed skeptically if not with outright hostility. In particular, influences from “the Christian church” were dismissed or denigrated.

And, today in some respects, the resistance to religion as a positive force in human development seems even stronger. Think of calls for the removal of “In God We Trust” from American currency and the Ten Commandments from public spaces; the prohibition of prayer at public events; the legalization of abortion; and the widespread claim that morality is relative and only subject to personal choice.

It is no wonder that Millennials and others are falling away from the church in significant numbers when such negatives are arrayed against their training five days a week. The above article does not, however, promote any particular religion. Specifically, it does not stump for Christianity. In fact, the article’s studied neutrality in that regard makes it all the more interesting.

Lisa Miller writes, “It is scientifically plausible that human beings, particularly teen agers and young adults are wired for transcendence and possess inborn spirituality that must be used – or lost.”

Christians can correlate such insights with theological beliefs the Christian church has held through the ages. For example, the Apostle John writes of the incarnation of Jesus, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9). Every person! Methodists and others would call this “prevenient grace” – the grace that goes before and is actively drawing each person toward God even before the attraction is personally recognized and saving grace is offered.

But how should this prevenient grace be nourished in children? Blessed are the children who hear their first prayers at Mother’s knees, or sit on father’s lap even before understanding develops to hear the Bible read daily with the family. Also blessed is the teenager who is sent off to school day after day with a short parental prayer recognizing that God is over all.

Even doubly blessed are single parents who must shoulder the load of the religious training of little ones alone but who do it resolutely.

And blessed are children and young people who receive the benefits of regularly meeting in a company of Christians who gather weekly to worship God. We might say in secular terms, “to feel connected to a higher power.”

Add to these bedtime prayers and easy discussions at meal time. These practices will develop easily with parents who have a heart for God. “Out of the heart the mouth speaketh”.

It’s encouraging to be reminded from outside the Christian community that children and adolescents have an easily-awakened sense of the transcendent. For Christians it’s an encouragement from a secular publication from work at Columbia University to nurture in children a Christian awareness of God in Christ, and his call to salvation and discipleship.

Bookmark and Share

Photo credit: GeniesWords (via flickr.com)

Re-post: When Jesus Was Twelve

Boy in suit. Photo credit: janvanderkerken (via flickr.com)I once said to my grandson, Zachary, when he was twelve years old, “Let’s go for a walk.” We started together down his lane and by the time we got to the sidewalk 300 yards away we were moving at a brisk pace, side by side. I looked down and suddenly realized that Zach was self-consciously matching my strides step for step. That had never happened before. I knew it was an early sign of approaching manhood.

We don’t make much of the age twelve in our culture. Sixteen is an important birthday because in many jurisdictions it means a person that age has the legal right to drive a car. Eighteen in some states means one is old enough to drink alcohol within the law. And 21 has long been regarded as the age of full maturity. Each is an important year, but not twelve.

It was different in Jesus’ culture. St. Luke tells us much about the birth of Jesus. Then he reports in great detail about his public appearances approximately 30 years later. As for the years between, they are sometimes called the silent years — except for one event. St. Luke breaks into the gap to report that Jesus attended his first passover in Jerusalem when he reached the age of twelve. Why does he tell us details of this and no other event during those years?

During Jesus’ times a Jewish boy became known as a “son of the commandment” (bar mitzvah) at the age of twelve. That is, a boy’s primary accountability was now to God through obedience to the Torah. The same transition to manhood is celebrated in some branches of Judaism in our day. The lad begins his speech saying, “Today I am a man.” He is now old enough to take part in religious services, to form binding contracts, and to testify before religious courts. Some say he has even reached the minimum age to marry. In Jesus’ times, a twelve-year-old, standing at the threshold of manhood, could attend his first passover in Jerusalem.

Despite the long years of silence, we can fill in some of the gaps about Jesus’ life by inference. We know God chose a devout young woman, Mary, to be his mother. When she received from the angel, Gabriel, the news of the coming miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, she responded, “I belong to the Lord body and soul, let it happen as you say.” At the home of her cousin Elizabeth this expectant mother sang a song laced with Old Testament content: “My soul glorifies the Lord/ and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior …” She was in all likelihood not yet out of her teens when she gave birth to the baby Jesus.

And Joseph, the man who was to be Jesus’ earthly father, was a “righteous man,” a man of character. When he learned of Mary’s curious pregnant condition his first impulse was to cancel the engagement — actually to divorce her, though in a way that would not embarrass her unduly. However, an angel intervened and Joseph, apparently the kind of man who was open to the spiritual realm, got the angel’s message: It’s okay; God is in this.

We know that Mary and Joseph were serious practitioners of the faith of Israel. They brought the baby Jesus to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. It was a ritual duty. Moreover, they made a trek of 70 or so miles from Nazareth to get Jesus to that first passover in Jerusalem. As well, they had an ordered family life in which, we are told, Jesus as a teen was obedient to them. And Luke tells us that many years later as an adult, Jesus went to the synagogue to worship on the sabbath, “as was his custom.” We can be quite sure he had been taught the custom in his home.

And as for his first Passover in Jerusalem, we learn something very important about Jesus. Recall that his parents were alarmed, at the end of their first day of trekking back to Nazareth, to discover that he was not among the pilgrim band of relatives and friends. They had to return to Jerusalem to search for him, finding the lad in the temple. What was he doing there? Listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Onlookers were amazed at his “understanding and his answers.”

Was this knowledge supernatural, setting Jesus apart from all other Jewish boys? Is that what it meant for him to be “the Incarnate God”? A passage in the ancient Jewish Talmud may hint at the answer. The essence of this passage reaches back before the times of Jesus, and it lays down these stages of a Jewish boy’s development: “At five he must begin the sacred studies; at ten he must set himself to learning the tradition; at thirteen he must know the whole of the law of Yahweh and practice its requirements . . .”

For Jesus to be in every respect human as well as in every respect divine he had to experience growing up as other boys of his times did. Twelve years of age must have been the time when he began to be aware of his unique relationship to his Heavenly Father. When he sat at the feet of the teachers he obviously surprised onlookers by his knowledge of the Jewish faith — likely learned in his home and from instruction at the local synagogue school.

How did Jesus respond when his parents finally found him in the temple and chided him for the inconvenience he had caused? In surprise he asks, “Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?”

Think of it: All this at twelve years of age — a rich knowledge of God’s law and an awakening awareness of God as his Father in a unique way! It makes one think of the capacity a twelve-year-old must have for religious knowledge, understanding, and the experience of God! I surely think of it. I think of it when I recall that memorable walk with my twelve-year-old grandson and how he walked with me on the verge of his own manhood.

Bookmark and Share
Photo credit: janvanderkerken (via flickr.com)

What Made the Prodigal Son Go Bad? Part 2 of 2

Last week, I reviewed Jesus’ story of the Prodigal Son as some readers today might interpret it. In short, I pointed out that a few may explain the prodigal’s choice to leave home, and the trouble this got him into, in a modern way. They might suggest that he went wrong because his family situation was defective. They might even paint him as a person victimized by life.

Then I asked why Jesus told the story without any of this kind of excuse-making, and I suggested that I’d give my opinion this week.

I grant that when it comes to the less-than-perfect environments we parents create for our children, we are all in the equation, without question. But — after secondary reasons are considered — the ultimate reason for the bad turns children sometimes take can be traced to what goes on in the command center of their own inner beings. It is that deliberate, out-of-sight, self-determining choice-maker over which they alone have a limited but still deciding authority.

There’s a story about identical twins who, it is said, were drawn into a study of what affects people’s outcomes in life. One twin, a homeless man was camped out near a sidewalk grate in a large city. He was asked how he explained this outcome. He said, “If you had known my father you would understand; he was an alcoholic.” The other twin, a businessman who had overcome great odds to succeed, was asked how he explained the outcome of his life. He answered, “If you had known my father you would understand; he was an alcoholic.”

Identical twins. A common parentage. After factoring in possible slight temperamental differences, and possible subtle relational differences, we come to the critical factor of personal choices. There, the differences are vast.

If the Christian Scriptures teach us anything about outcomes for this world or the next it is that in the final analysis we are all accountable for our choices. That’s why Jesus told the story the way he did.

The son appealed to his father brazenly for the big handout. That was a choice. He packed up and left home — a direction-setting choice. He took up with bad company, also a choice. Each choice came easier; each choice tilted the trajectory of his life toward a downward spiral.

Years ago when I began to hear the heart-breaking stories of children who had wandered into the “far country” of dissolute living I grew tired of the question, “What did the parents do wrong?” I grant that it can be an admissible question. We parents by our teaching and example can make it easier or harder for our children to make good, life-enhancing choices.

But I felt impatient with the question when it seemed to overlook the direction-setting choices the children themselves had made. After all, God created us to make choices! Vocational choices have vocational consequences, marital choices, marital consequences, moral choices, moral consequences, and faith choices eternal consequences.

There is bad news and good news in the story of the Prodigal Son. The bad news is that he chose to follow a path that led down the road to gnawing hunger in a pig pen. The good news is that in his impoverishment he came to his senses, took responsibility for outcomes, and started the long trek home to his father. He was moved to say to his Father (forgetting all the assumed offenses he might claim were committed against him) “Father, I have sinned.”

The Bible calls it repentance — the radical changing of the very set of the mind; the acceptance of personal responsibility; the big turn-around with resolution; and the pointing of life in another direction. It is the grace-enabled I word — a choice that arrests the downward spiral and turns the trajectory of life in an upward direction again.

(Note: I have taken from the story of the Prodigal Son only one element in the story to make one point. In this blog I have not explored the deeper and more complex theological question of the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, and the primacy of grace. Save those for another day.)

Bookmark and Share

What Made the Prodigal Son Go Bad? Part 1 of 2

Nearly everybody knows what the prodigal son did (Lk 15:11-32). He brazenly asked his father for his inheritance long before it was due. Then he went a great distance from home in search of “real freedom.” In that far-off place he attracted a following of ne’er-do-wells and together they caroused until his resources were spent.

Then came abandonment by his fair-weather “friends,” degrading work as a pig-tender, grinding hunger, disillusionment and desperation, and finally his forlorn trek back home — smelly and in rags — to throw himself on his father’s mercy.

Here’s my question: Is there today a more nuanced and thus better explanation for the self-destructive course the son took?

For example, there is no mother in the story. Might it be that the lad had been deprived of maternal warmth in his developing years that had left him insecure and therefore vulnerable to his own impulsive conduct?

And there was his heartless older brother who objected bitterly to his father’s tenderness toward the younger son. Should the prodigal’s bad judgment be viewed as less serious because of destructive sibling rivalry that had never been resolved? Maybe this was a factor in his hasty leave-taking!

Then what about the father? Had this father played favorites or otherwise failed his task in raising this younger son — with damaging results?

Should we say, for example, that the son isn’t responsible because his father should have put his foot down during the son’s early adolescence and notified him sternly that what he needed to do was to develop a good work ethic right there on the farm?

Parental mistakes? If we could blame adolescent rebellion on less-than-perfect parenting, all of our children would be delinquents. That’s because all parents make mistakes.

We can do things in our relating to our children, sometimes innocently, that inadvertently make it easier for them to turn to wasteful living. But is that the crucial issue in the prodigal’s case? And why did Jesus tell the story the way he did, offering no excuses for this boy’s behavior?

Next week, I’ll offer an opinion.

Bookmark and Share

Father’s Day: Beyond Sentimentality

Single women who turn to a sperm bank to start the process of creating human life, in doing so make the ultimate statement about fatherhood: It’s unnecessary; you can have a child and raise it on your own. Some have gone so far as to say fatherhood is a complication that a potential mother is better off without.

It’s an extreme point of view. And it flies in the face of what is known about the contribution a father makes in the life of a developing child. It especially flies in the face of a Judaeo-Christian understanding of fatherhood as revealed to us in Scripture.

There is growing evidence that the wide-spread loss of fatherhood in our culture has created a societal crisis that has been mounting since the industrial revolution of the eighteenth century. Michiake and Hildegard Horie (among others) make this point in their book, Whatever Became of Fathering?

And David Blankenhorn in his thoroughly-researched book, Fatherless America shows fatherlessness to be a foremost social crisis of our times. He writes that even back in the 90s when his book was published, “… about 40 percent of American children (went) to sleep in homes in which their fathers do not live.”

It’s not that there is no interest or passion left for what fatherhood represents. When the late Tim Russert, top-flight newsman, published his book in 2006 about his father, Big Russ & Me, and then made it known that he would write a sequel made up of testimonials from the public, he didn’t expect the in-pouring of letters – nearly 60,000 including e-mails. These were from people who were eager to pay tribute to their fathers.

So, in the midst of this seeming ambivalence – a society that at the same time denigrates and celebrates fatherhood, there are still thousands eager to speak a good word for their fathers. That’s why we celebrate “Father’s Day,” June 20.

Again the church has rich resources to add to this celebration. In the Bible, fatherhood is used both to acknowledge a biological reality and to stand as a metaphor for authority and strength, and oversight.

For example, Abraham for his example of faith is called “the father of the faithful.” The Scriptures of both Testaments refer to the patriarchs, which means “father-rulers.” On the negative side, using the term as a metaphor, Jesus says of the religious leaders, “You are of your father, the devil.” It was not biology that he put at issue here – it was likeness or temperament. And Jesus taught, “When you pray, say Father.” In fact, in the Gospel of John he applies the title, Father, to God about 107 times, the ultimate tribute to the honor wrapped up in the word.

Eph. 3:14 gives us a particularly telling insight into how we are to regard fatherhood in church and family. William Barclay translates the verse, “God is the father of whose fatherhood all fatherhood in heaven and upon earth is a copy.”

What could prompt us more urgently than that word to cultivate fatherhood in the life of the church as a testimony to our conflicted age?

Consider three emphases that could be made in churches everywhere for the health of families and church life?

First, because for many the word has lost its importance, fathers need help in clarifying their understanding of what fatherhood is all about. The role has been seriously blurred. Fathers who themselves did not experience good fathering are likely to suffer from a lack of clarity about what the role entails because the role is learned mainly by example and imitation.

But, if the fatherhood of God is our “copy,” what could be more helpful to us fathers in understanding and enacting our role than to study how our Father God relates to his children? His love is steadfast. His ear is open to us. He comforts when comfort is needed but he also disciplines “for our good.” He is the master disciplinarian, intending his discipline to be a means of instruction. Both Testaments are full of such insights.

Second, a mother is the most important person to lead in cultivating respect for a father. If she honors him, she will prompt children to do so. I will forever be grateful to my wife for the way she cultivated respect for me in our home. For example, when the children were small I would phone home late in the afternoon to say that I was finished my round of calling and would soon be there. She would end the call and then turn to the children with excitement in her voice and say, “Daddy’s coming home!” That kind of honor and enthusiasm is contagious with small children and it made my task easier.

Third, both parents can contribute to a father’s good standing by showing respect for one another in the flow of their time together. That’s not always simple when stressful moments come along but it is a surefire way of blessing the whole family and putting father in a position of good influence.

This coming Sunday, June 20, good things will happen for fathers in churches across the land. Cards will be given, perhaps gifts too, tributes will be spoken, and special sermons will be delivered. There will be sadness also over the absence of some fathers through death or desertion. But the best thing that could happen would be for us all to go on a search for what God, our Father by redemption, wants to teach us further about fathering.

To e-mail this post to a friend click here.

Bookmark and Share

Raising Kids for Christ

I have now had the pleasure of observing from their earliest years the traits first of children, then grandchildren, and now great-grandchildren. I’ve noticed that if you observe carefully you can see their dispositional tendencies from the start.

Before they can talk or even walk they show on their faces and by their responses their reactions to people and life in general. And those traits tend to carry over to some degree when they arrive on the shores of adulthood.

One child has a sunny disposition from the start; another is unusually shy around all but close relatives. One child is full of self-confidence; another takes considerable encouragement to embrace new challenges. One tends to be defiant against all orders; another is easier to convince to go along. They all seem to share to one degree or another the ability to manipulate, to deceive, even that wretched impulse to punish parents who are supposed to regulate their lives. Likewise, they all at times have flashes of loving generosity toward parents.

If I could run my life back two generations to the time when our children were small I know I would study each one separately much more carefully than I did. I see even now how different they were in temperament.

I’m not a trained psychologist but I have gleaned from my child-raising experiences one truth that I find myself repeating over and over again. It’s that every child comes into the world with a “package,” one that their parents have to work with. They do not come as a blank sheet to be written on.

In the Bible, Esau was an outdoors type; Jacob was more for the indoor life. Esau was a man of appetite in the moment; Jacob was a cunning trader who could hold for the long view. But they were twins, both from the same mother and father. Each came into the world with his own package.

As our children were growing up, my wife, Kathleen, and I tended to pool our insights regarding how we would handle difficult situations. We had slightly different perspectives on what to do, and that was good. In fact, God made us to bring a male and female perspective to a parenting situation. But because of our shared values we agreed fully on the outcomes we were working and praying for.

We wanted our children to know Christ as we have known him. And character-wise we wanted them to be honest, respectful, obedient, and accountable to us even as they matured and went farther afield.

It pleased us to see them become resourceful and enterprising as they grew up. Perhaps some of this came from parental example and encouragement, but I think a fair portion of it came from the genes. They hustled and got their own odd jobs, saved their money, and bought some of their own clothes, or a bicycle, or fish tanks, or other things they were left to themselves to provide.

They were not without their squabbles. For siblings, fighting for territorial rights and jockeying for favor go with the territory. Sometimes it was tiring to us as it is for all involved parents. Those issues seemed to recede with the coming of adulthood and the children became staunch supporters of one another. And when they bring their spouses home, the mutual support among them all is a joy to see.

I feel for young parents who are bringing children up in today’s environment. There are so many external anti-family lures to contend with -– sitcoms in living color, often with subtle anti-Christian biases, cell phones, the whole perilous world of the Internet, texting (and sexting), early access to automobiles, a movie industry that can’t always be monitored, and even some educational influences in school that contradict family values.

Yet, I believe when properly administered, good family influences are stronger than all the counter influences. What are some of the things parents can do to increase the likelihood of winning the children to Christ and to adopt family values? Here are nine:

(1) Read the Bible and pray with them daily. Make it a family time.

(2) Take them to a church regularly where the preaching is biblical, clear, and anointed and leads to the growth of community.

(3) Make sure you attend a church where Christian Education for all ages is taken seriously and encourages discussion.

(4) Keep alert to the friends they choose. Invite them into your home.

(5) Don’t be shy about keeping track of what they are seeing and doing on the Internet; you are their guardians.

(6) Have fun times with them on their level.

(7) Take them for a treat occasionally one-on-one. In this case, it will not be the size of the treat that counts, it will be the exclusive attention of a parent.

(8) Be sure they get to Christian camps where their activities are properly supervised and they are invited to give their lives to Christ or to follow him.

(9) Model consistency before them and when you come short acknowledge it. Children respect honesty.

In my opinion, parents today tend not to reckon with a child’s free will as they should. They should make much of it when parenting, rather than considering themselves totally responsible for outcomes. By the time children are 15 they have made scads of choices that are rapidly shaping who they are becoming and what value system they will live by. Lying, cheating, stealing, sassing, rebelling –- these are all options open to them, however seriously their parents coach them in uprightness and decency and respect.

Children should therefore be held responsible for their choices. This needs to be brought home to them from their early years. I remember little sayings repeated to me in my childhood that infected me with a sense of personal responsibility from early years onward: “If you make your bed, you have to lie on it.” Or, “Your chickens will come home to roost.” Or, “Birds of a feather flock together.” Whenever I was unresponsive to parental advice regarding some decision, one such saying would be dropped into my memory and left with me to accept or reject. They were effective lines.

The battle for the souls of our children is a taxing one, but one well worth waging on every front -– the spiritual, the moral, the social. At the same time, every child must be helped to understand clearly that they are fully responsible for the decisions they make that seal their eternal destiny. The key decision: “What will you do with Jesus?”

To e-mail this post to a friend click here.

Bookmark and Share

When Jesus Was Twelve

Boy in suit. Photo credit: janvanderkerken (via flickr.com)I once said to my grandson, Zachary, when he was twelve years old, “Let’s go for a walk.” We started together down his lane and by the time we got to the sidewalk 300 yards away we were moving at a brisk pace, side by side. I looked down and suddenly realized that Zach was self-consciously matching my strides step for step. That had never happened before. I knew it was an early sign of approaching manhood.

We don’t make much of the age twelve in our culture. Sixteen is an important birthday because in many jurisdictions it means a person that age has the legal right to drive a car. Eighteen in some states means one is old enough to drink alcohol within the law. And 21 has long been regarded as the age of full maturity. Each is an important year, but not twelve.

It was different in Jesus’ culture. St. Luke tells us much about the birth of Jesus. Then he reports in great detail about his public appearances approximately 30 years later. As for the years between, they are sometimes called the silent years — except for one event. St. Luke breaks into the gap to report that Jesus attended his first passover in Jerusalem when he reached the age of twelve. Why does he tell us details of this and no other event during those years?

During Jesus’ times a Jewish boy became known as a “son of the commandment” (bar mitzvah) at the age of twelve. That is, a boy’s primary accountability was now to God through obedience to the Torah. The same transition to manhood is celebrated in some branches of Judaism in our day. The lad begins his speech saying, “Today I am a man.” He is now old enough to take part in religious services, to form binding contracts, and to testify before religious courts. Some say he has even reached the minimum age to marry. In Jesus’ times, a twelve-year-old, standing at the threshold of manhood, could attend his first passover in Jerusalem.

Despite the long years of silence, we can fill in some of the gaps about Jesus’ life by inference. We know God chose a devout young woman, Mary, to be his mother. When she received from the angel, Gabriel, the news of the coming miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, she responded, “I belong to the Lord body and soul, let it happen as you say.” At the home of her cousin Elizabeth this expectant mother sang a song laced with Old Testament content: “My soul glorifies the Lord/ and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior …” She was in all likelihood not yet out of her teens when she gave birth to the baby Jesus.

And Joseph, the man who was to be Jesus’ earthly father, was a “righteous man,” a man of character. When he learned of Mary’s curious pregnant condition his first impulse was to cancel the engagement — actually to divorce her, though in a way that would not embarrass her unduly. However, an angel intervened and Joseph, apparently the kind of man who was open to the spiritual realm, got the angel’s message: It’s okay; God is in this.

We know that Mary and Joseph were serious practitioners of the faith of Israel. They brought the baby Jesus to be circumcised on the eighth day of his life. It was a ritual duty. Moreover, they made a trek of 70 or so miles from Nazareth to get Jesus to that first passover in Jerusalem. As well, they had an ordered family life in which, we are told, Jesus as a teen was obedient to them. And Luke tells us that many years later as an adult, Jesus went to the synagogue to worship on the sabbath, “as was his custom.” We can be quite sure he had been taught the custom in his home.

And as for his first Passover in Jerusalem, we learn something very important about Jesus. Recall that his parents were alarmed, at the end of their first day of trekking back to Nazareth, to discover that he was not among the pilgrim band of relatives and friends. They had to return to Jerusalem to search for him, finding the lad in the temple. What was he doing there? Listening to the teachers and asking them questions. Onlookers were amazed at his “understanding and his answers.”

Was this knowledge supernatural, setting Jesus apart from all other Jewish boys? Is that what it meant for him to be “the Incarnate God”? A passage in the ancient Jewish Talmud may hint at the answer. The essence of this passage reaches back before the times of Jesus, and it lays down these stages of a Jewish boy’s development: “At five he must begin the sacred studies; at ten he must set himself to learning the tradition; at thirteen he must know the whole of the law of Yahweh and practice its requirements . . .”

For Jesus to be in every respect human as well as in every respect divine he had to experience growing up as other boys of his times did. Twelve years of age must have been the time when he began to be aware of his unique relationship to his Heavenly Father. When he sat at the feet of the teachers he obviously surprised onlookers by his knowledge of the Jewish faith — likely learned in his home and from instruction at the local synagogue school.

How did Jesus respond when his parents finally found him in the temple and chided him for the inconvenience he had caused? In surprise he asks, “Didn’t you know I must be about my Father’s business?”

Think of it: All this at twelve years of age — a rich knowledge of God’s law and an awakening awareness of God as his Father in a unique way! It makes one think of the capacity a twelve-year-old must have for religious knowledge, understanding, and the experience of God! I surely think of it. I think of it when I recall that memorable walk with my twelve-year-old grandson and how he walked with me on the verge of his own manhood.

Bookmark and Share