By Brian Norsman It was time for our nightly ritual of marking the sign of the cross on our five year old son’s forehead. “Georgie, Jesus loves you,” I said as I traced a cross on his brow. He reciprocated by marking my forehead, and repeating, “Daddy, Jesus loves you.”
Since he came into this world, he has been marked from the cradle to his own bed by that cross, knowing God loves him. This evening he fell peacefully asleep after the blessing.
At 2 am, we were awakened by George’s hysterical cries. “Mommy! I had a really bad dream—a nightmare.” My wife sprang out of bed and rushed to his side. She picked him up and held him tightly. George, now awake, looked into his mother’s eyes, and tenderly requested, “Momma, I need the sign of the cross!” From his frightening experience, our son, George, knew he was loved and protected by the Cross of Christ forever.
The next evening at bedtime we read several books and ended our time with his nightly blessing. However, George enhanced the ritual. He still looked me in the eyes, put his tiny fingers on my forehead, and made the sign of the cross. But this time he said, “Daddy, Jesus loves you. No bad dreams. Protects you with the sign of the cross.” Speechless, I went to bed feeling God’s amazing love, grace, and protection.
We’ve exchanged that same nightly blessing now for six months. Every night I am reminded of how an innocent child can lead, raise up, and pray a household into faith. Proverbs 22:6 illustrates this well: “Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.” Not only will they not stray, but they will begin to teach you and surprise you with holy wonder, playful curiosity, and abundant grace.
One Russian proverb says, “What is learned in the cradle lasts to the grave.” What rituals of faith can you start today in your home? A generational prayer at the dinner table? A seasonal faith story at bedtime? A blessing before your child goes to school?
Rest assured, when you train your child in faith, the seeds of the Holy Spirit will change the landscape of your home in surprising, mysterious, and transforming ways.
Brian Norsman enjoys life abundantly as a father, husband, family Pastor, and systems innovator. He resides in Stillwater, MN.