Smoke on the Water by Deep Purple is a classic. The opening guitar riff itself is so well known that just hearing the first few cords, people know they know that song. Oddly enough, the opening guitar riff is a four-note blues scale melody in G harmonized in fourths. In other words, it’s basic. It takes the basics of guitar playing and music and creates something memorable.
More than that, for the last number of years, Smoke on the Water has been my 6 year-old daughter’s favorite song (second is Hooked on a Feeling from Blue Suede on the Soundtrack of Guardians of the Galaxy). She used to just hum the opening riff and just sing the chorus. She’s tried to even play it on guitar. She loves it. And it’s my fault really. I’ve turned my young daughter into a rocker. When I play classic rock or even more modern rock music, she loves to headbang along with me. Part of me is proud, part of me is very very worried. Luckily I’ve also taught her how to headbutt (always with the waist, never with the neck) to defend herself if need be.
But what does this have to do with coffee and prayer?
To be honest, it’s all about modeling. I’ve modeled this behavior to my daughter. I’ve also modeled this behavior to my son, but he’s picked up other habits from me instead (like my sarcasm…I’m in trouble). As a parent, I model what it means to be a human, to be a person. I model what it means to love, to respect, to act in public (I’ll claim that it’s my bade that my kiddos think it’s awesome to burp the alphabet and their names…it is, it’s just not the proper thing to do in public…or apparently at home either…man I’m a bad parent) and what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
Ever since my kiddos have been young, they’ve wanted to drink coffee as well. It’s a regular beverage in our home. It’s on first thing in the morning and my wife and I are always drinking it first thing. When my daughter was just a year and a half she used to call it “kah-ki” and she would ask for it. I found out that when I wasn’t looking, she’d dip her finger into it and taste it or my son would take sips from time to time without my knowledge.
I’ve also noticed that my kiddos have been praying more and wanting to read their Bible more. In fact, my son is supposed to read 300 minutes a month for school. He asked if reading the Bible would count towards those minutes. Totally. My son and daughter fight over who gets to pray before and after dinner. My son has been taking time to read through the Bible and actually asks me questions about it. My daughter has her children’s picture Bible and, now that she’s learning how to read, is trying to read it.
Some months back, I was trying to get them to read with me each morning before school. My son would argue and my daughter would pretend to be a dog, or bird, or dragon, or something of that like. It made for rough mornings. I gave up on it. And now they’re doing it without my suggesting. And they want to do it.
And they ask questions.
When both my kiddos were baptized as infants, the bible verse preached on by the pastor (who happened to be my father-in-law so, you know, same sermon and all) was from Deuteronomy 6:20-25.
It starts off with these words:
“In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees, and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?'” Deuteronomy 6:20
The parent then is to recount the saving acts of God, how God brought them out of Egypt, the land of slavery, and delivered them into the Promised Land just as He said He would. These stipulations, decrees, and laws from the Lord were meant to help them live in such a way that they showed they belonged to God.
Two things that are interesting here though. 1) The people entering into the Promised Land were not from the original generation that were taken out of Egypt and 2) They had not entered into the Promised Land. Deuteronomy takes place on the mountain range between the wilderness where they wandered for 40 years and the Promised land. They were between the deliverance and fulfillment of the promise of God. Yet the events of God’s deliverance from Egypt was just as much as their story as it would be their children’s who would be living in the Promised Land.
As a parent trying to help my children grow in their faith and understanding, they are between the wilderness and the Promised Land. They aren’t from the previous generation and they haven’t fully entered into the fullness of God’s kingdom. But this is their story as well as much as it is mine.
The parents in Deuteronomy were to live what God had taught them in such a way that their children would want to know why they did this in the first place. And the parent is to help train the child in understanding why.
The same is true today. And to tell the truth, modeling is hard. I’m always a bit surprised about what sticks and what doesn’t; amazed at what they pick up and act out verses the things they don’t. I’m being observed by my kiddos as I live my life. And in doing so, I teach them how to live theirs.
And so, we listen to Smoke on the Water and talk about the lyrics, they are not allowed to drink coffee until at least age 12 (that’s when I started but that’s a whole ‘nother blog post), and they are encouraged to read their Bible and pray, but to do so at their own pace. And I do so at mine. We talk about it, they ask questions, and they watch me.
And I try to live and model what I believe so that I can pass along to them what I know when they ask me why I do so.
Parenting is harder than I thought it would be (and I thought it was going to be super hard too).