A few nights ago, I taught my husband the importance of the thumb in maintaining control in a household.
This, of course, is knowledge passed on to me by my father who learned it from . . . well, I think he came up with it himself.
Every night, after our homework was finished and Dad had read the Wall Street Journal, after Mom had cleared off the kitchen table and we girls were edging toward bed (well, all except for my middle sister who loved to save practicing the clarinet until about 10:30 at night), we’d gather in our living room, spread out across the floor and sofa and chairs, to read the Bible.
My dad would crack open his black leathery Bible and proceed with reading a chapter to us.
But before he would, he’d survey the room. If any of us girls were sprawled across the floor or flopped over the arm of a chair looking about to fall asleep, he’d poke his thumb up in the air about five times in a row and then say like he meant it (because he did), “Sit up!”
We’d groan and sigh and prop ourselves in an upright position. And eventually it became a joke (ok, and still is) to the point that any time anyone is sitting anything other than her very straightest, one of us will produce our thumb and bellow, “Sit up!”
But there was something to that gesture of Dad’s and the words that came with it. Reading the Bible wasn’t like perusing a magazine or talking on the phone. It was set apart, special, to be paid attention to.
And this taught us something.
All these decades later, we girls are still talking about it.
And by “talking about it” I mean “giving him grief about his flagrant gesturing” at pretty much every conceivable opportunity.
But we did learn this: Family devotions were important to our parents and so they became and still are important to us.
Posture, not so much.
So if you are a dad or a mom, if you have kids living with you because their own home life is awful, if you are raising a grandchild, if you’re a couple without kids or a single person who prays to one day have them, here’s what I can promise you:
- Your young ones won’t forget the time you spend in God’s Word, even when they’re 30 years old . . . and possibly living on a dairy farm.
- It doesn’t matter if they moan or groan. They’re listening, even if they’re faking it.
- Dads, if you think family devotions are ridiculous, your kids will too. They pay attention. They’re watching.
- God’s Word works. It’s formative, creative. He spoke the world into being, after all. Think what His Word can do for you and your child!
- It forms a habit, and habits are hard to break. And when it comes to daily time in God’s Word, there’s no better habit to be hooked on. (Although the one I have of going through life without ever watching “Titanic” is a pretty sweet one too.)
- Devotions don’t have to be dour. They can be a cause for a lot of laughter in a family. Not that I — the one who, upon hearing my dad list off the Jebusites and Hittites and Amorites, piped up as a little girl, “And the mosquito bites?” — would know.
- You make the time for football games, 4-H meetings and movies. You can make time for this.
Oh yeah, and one last thing: Don’t be afraid to employ the use of the sit-up thumb. That thing works.
(Hey, your kids need to give you grief about something when they get older; you might as well make it good.)