Written by Sylvia Schroeder, blogger of When the House is Quiet
My grandsons are going through the picky eating stage. I’ve watched all fourteen grandchildren hit it along the way, and it never fails to bring back memories of my own children’s fussy eating.
Whether it was the highchair’s first awful spewing or later when they were older, not liking a certain food was easily evident. Our middle daughter hated peas. I remember waiting one day until she downed the four designated peas on her plate. Her sisters had long finished their lunches and were off playing. Those chosen few peas were keys to her freedom.
“I ate them,” she finally triumphed.
Grateful that the ordeal was over, I let her run off to play. Upon picking up her plate, I noticed four tiny smashed green blobs hidden underneath. Even to this day, she has never gained an appetite for peas.
I wonder if my actions and attitudes could affect appetites of a different kind in my grandchildren.
Some appetites must be conquered, while others must be fed. Appetites that lead away from God are difficult to satisfy. Appetites that lead to God take discipline and commitment.
Appetites are an inescapable part of life. They drive us to actions which either nurture or starve those cravings. They are difficult to control and hard to satisfy. They can be a blessing or a curse. Sometimes we aren’t even aware of their power or hold over us.
The Israelites on their journey to the Promised Land craved meat so desperately, they rebelled against God. David, while king, followed his whetted appetite to adultery and murder. The desire for power was so great in the religious ruling class, they had the Messiah put to death.
Timothy’s grandmother along with his mother instilled a desire for godliness in young Timmy. Hannah’s deep longing for a child was answered with Samuel who grew to hear God’s voice, even from a young age. Jesus Himself encouraged children to draw near and lean into Him.
A grandparent in tune with the Savior and with their grandchild is sensitive to the appetites being groomed within their grandchildren by culture, screen time, school, home, or church.
So how do we influence our grandchildren’s appetites for the things of God?
Whet appetites for godliness
We must feed our own appetites first with Scripture if we want to influence another’s. We must become students of God’s Word. Even when children are young, read from the Bible small bits and pieces. Let them observe that daily habit. Leave crumbs. My dad’s Bible was always next to his recliner, a visible sign of a frequent routine. Simplified versions of the Bible are great, but reading directly from Scripture is also important. The amount and depth should grow as they do.
Feed the appetite with spiritual truth
Make the connection to what the Bible teaches in everyday life, whether in books, media, friendships, or culture. Spiritual truth trumps all else. It divides right and wrong. Help little minds decipher what things God values most. Intentionally develop an appetite for those values and take opportunities to include grandchildren in activities that feed their souls. Demonstrate gratefulness, generosity, and graciousness.
Control appetites through discipline
Show grandchildren what a disciplined life looks like; one that joyfully pursues spiritual growth. Learn to substitute spiritually nutritious for spiritually bland. What Scriptures could they learn to help curb an ungodly appetite? What Scriptures could they learn to replace that ungodly appetite with a godly choice instead?
Starve wrong appetites
Recent spiritual failings of Christian leaders remind us that what we nurture is very important. Separate from things that feed the drive toward lust or violence and substitute something uplifting. Set an example of purity.
What else can we do?
Interests in art, sports, or music rub off on those around us, so appetites can be developed to lean toward God’s interests. What we are interested in does make an impression on our grandchildren. How is your example – what do they see?
May the Lord protect us from being grandparents who confuse what we do for grandkids with being grandparents who mirror the Father we represent.
I’m thinking about these things while I babysit three little boys who call me Grandma. I figure I’m old, right? I’m tired of bending over and hauling up. The mess of toys will just get worse even if we go through the torture of trying to pick up. Begging to watch a show will continue. The easiest thing in the world is to give in and just turn the TV on, to sit back and take a breather for a while.
Yet, something inside tells me that right now, in this bright sunshiny morning, we could do better. I could stuff little arms into jackets, and shove little piggies into shoes. I could give them time and laughter. We can talk and share God’s glorious world.
I can whet their appetite for trees, butterflies, and flowers. I can feed their appetite for the wind blowing in their hair with another push on the swing. Looking at the shapes of clouds and flights of birds will help control screen time hunger. We’ll blow bubbles and watch them float away, enjoying the gift of another day. Using these activities as ways to point them to God – the One who created them – the One who satisfies!
Deep inside I know that the appetites I feed into my grandchildren’s souls, nourish mine as well.
“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” Psalm 42:1-2 (NIV)
May our grandchildren echo the Psalmist’s panting after God. May the growing hunger in their hearts be for Christ, the thirst of their souls to be with Him. And may Grandpa and Grandma fuel those appetites.