We are in the grip of winter in most of the USA. So let’s think about summer activities and maybe it will warm us up. This year there will be new hydroplane races coming to a large lake nearby, Lake Guntersville. I think they have been held there before, but not in recent history.
The talk about the races reminds me of my childhood in Washington. While I was young, living in Spokane, our afternoon cartoons were sometimes interrupted by time trials for the Gold Cup race in Seattle. It was a constant irritation to have Popeye broken into by boats driving around in circles. I did not appreciate it at all.
But as time went on, I became more and more interested in the process. I began to recognize familiar boats like Miss Budweiser or Miss Madison. (The boats were all named Miss Something.) And eventually I became a fan and got more and more involved with races. By the time we moved to the Seattle-Tacoma area, I would watch avidly as the boats raced around the watery track.
Then we moved to Minnesota, and no one paid any attention to unlimited hydroplane races, and I gradually lost interest as well. So it has been over five decades since I saw a hydroplane race. And I am sort of interested in seeing what happens this summer a half hour from here.
Now what, you may ask, is the spiritual significance of this story? There may be many, but one that strikes me is this. We become involved with things that we are exposed to, whether we want to or not. The initial irritation I felt by having my cartoons interrupted, was replaced with a genuine affection and interest in the event.
I have had friends who were very into stock car racing (NASCAR) and their children became involved as well. I have also had friends who were into horse shows and their children were as well. Football families tend to have football watching children. Baseball families tend to have baseball watching children. And you could insert many other things into the same scenario.
And families that value faith tend to have children that do as well. They may go through the stage of irritation, “Do we have to go to church this Sunday?” But eventually, it becomes a part of their life. Sometimes this does not happen. Sometimes Alabama loving families get a child who loves Auburn.
But generally speaking, if your faith is important to you, it will be to your children. They may go through times when they lose interest, but the seeds planted in their souls at a young age tend to stay there, maybe dormant for a while, but at a later time may blossom into a return to the faith of their childhood.
I have known of adults who were never exposed to faith that come to a realization that they want a spiritual life. And I have known adults that were raised in church who walk out as teenagers and never return. It is not a hard and fast rule. But as Proverbs says, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (22:6) KJV. This is more of a principle than a hard and fast rule. People have free will and will do what they want to do, sometimes to shock and dismay of their parents. But the chances are much greater that someone raised in a spiritual environment will be spiritual, than someone who is the child of people whose highest priority is material.
I don’t pay much attention to hockey since I was not exposed to it at a younger age. I find it confusing. But I will happily sit through hours of slow innings of a baseball game, since I grew up playing and watching it and collecting baseball cards.
So if your new year’s resolutions include more spiritual activities, even if the kids complain sometimes, it may make all the difference in what becomes important to them in later life. It is not guaranteed, but it is more likely than the other way around.