Written by Deb del Villar, Director of Communications
Have you ever tried to catch a flittering, fluttering butterfly?
Just when you think you have it, it darts off in another direction, here and there, up and down, all around!
Then, something changes – a beautiful red flower has attracted the butterfly’s full attention. The butterfly settles down to feed, and because the flower is so appealing, it stays and drinks deeply. The flower was also accessible and easy for the butterfly to alight on and feed.
All three traits (attractive, appealing, and accessible) were necessary for the butterfly to land and feed. We need to keep these same three things in mind as we seek to share God’s story with our grandchildren.
We desire for them to settle down and drink deeply of God’s Truth. So, let’s look at a few practical ideas to get you started.
The number one thing that attracts children, your grandchildren, is a person who they know loves them. Your relationship can either attract or repulse.
Observe your grandchildren and see what they like or where their interests lie. What is that red flower for them?
I love to read to our grandchildren and now that many are older, we discuss books they are reading. Several enjoy arts and crafts, so supplies are on hand for when they come over. Card and board games are a favorite as well as Friday night movie nights complete with popcorn.
Out of our fourteen grandchildren, ten are boys with all of them highly interested in sports. I have done fantasy football leagues with them and listened to untold hours of sports stats. I have a sports app on my phone that allows me to watch the grandsons who live 15 hours away.
I do Marco Polo and send texts and memes I find. Think of ways you can build a strong connection over their interests and likes.
Above all, welcome and enjoy them, making sure they know it. Stay alert for God to show you ways to intersect their interests with His Story.
An example would be as you harvest the garden of vegetables with all the colors, textures, shapes, and tastes you could point to the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve had so much to choose from yet they doubted God’s goodness and love. One ‘no’ fruit among so many ‘yes’ fruits, yet they choose the one forbidden. It’s a good lead-in to a discussion about all that we have yet we are still sometimes not satisfied, wanting that one thing we cannot have.
An attractive relationship will draw them to you, but now how do you draw them to Jesus?
Growing up spending lots of time butterfly catching, I observed what appealed to the butterflies. My favorite ones to catch were Monarchs and Swallowtails. I watched what kind and color of flowers they were drawn to and what time of day they were active. I would grab my net and my collection jar and go out. Most days, I caught several which I kept for only a short period before releasing them. It was the challenge and joy of the catch that kept me interested. To this day, I am excited when I see the first butterfly of the season. Catching butterflies captured my heart. I have passed on that love to my grandchildren. My one granddaughter has fallen in love with it as well.
I want my grandchildren to fall in love with Jesus. In this season of my life, I am captured by that desire. As I observe my grandchildren, I think of what would draw them as well as what times they are more open to hearing about Jesus.
They love to hear our family stories, especially ones that include their parents. I often use the Let’s Talk cards during mealtime with the sharing time often spilling over way beyond the mealtime. I have also written down stories about my parents as well as my childhood stories for the grandchildren. A great resource from Christian Grandparenting Network to help you get started is My Story Guidebook. This love of storytelling lends itself quite often to connecting a spiritual truth experienced or learned.
Increased times of engagement also tend to occur around family stresses such as health issues. Allow God to use you to share how He has been faithful to you through hard times.
Another time is when their fascination has been awakened. Whether a young grandchild is watching a tiny ant carry a piece of bread bigger than itself or an older teen desires to know why the family has pickled herring on New Year’s Day, use these opportunities to share about God and your family’s history.
Seek to connect these times of questioning and interest with God’s Story and most importantly with the Storyteller Himself.
The location of the red flower also was important to the butterfly. It had to be where it could be reached and enjoyed, supplying much-needed nutrition for the butterfly to fly. The butterfly needed it and sought it out in order to live.
Our grandchildren must know they need God and His truth. May we pray that they seek it out. May they realize it is not only about the past, but it is for today, tomorrow, and forever.
Be sure to make God and His truth not a one-day or one-place activity. It is for every day in every place. It is relevant for whatever you are going through and whenever it is occurring. God is always available for them. Share about times that God was available to you when you needed Him most.
Help them to understand that God’s story is not only accessible to them, but it is for them to partake in; they have a place. He has a plan for their lives.
Encourage them to live out their part in God’s story. Notice their gifts and talents and give them opportunities to use them. Cheer them on as they serve and build their confidence and dependence on God and the Spirit to help them.
Just as the butterfly seeks out the red flower, may your grandchildren be attracted to God’s Story. May your appeal cause them to come and drink deeply of God’s Truth. And may their part in God’s story be accessible to them.
May they get their nourishment and strength from God so they can fly with wings like eagles, walk and not faint as they come to know, love, and serve Christ. (Isaiah 40:31)