Teaching Our Children to Lean into God

How many times has fear stopped you from moving forward, pursuing something incredible, or taking the next step? When you feel conflicted about a decision, what is your first inclination? When something unfair happens, how do you respond? Is it to worry, pace, and talk to others? Do you get angry and question God? Or, do you move towards God and rely on Him, trusting Him completely?

Recently, I had a co-worker share with me how each year she asks God to reveal a word for the year to her. It could be perseverance, trust, patience, or even a small phrase such as, keep going, or finish well.

As I thought about this, I felt a longing for God to give me a word for the year. So, I started praying about it. I read my Bible and thought about what word God might give me.

For a short time I thought, that maybe God was telling me to “listen to Him” or “to see Him.”

But, neither of those phrases felt right. I continued to pray, but still felt God had not given me my word. Several weeks went by and then a month and still … nothing.

As I encountered several difficult trials, I had a sweet friend and prayer partner send me an encouraging email.  In it, the words lean into God seemed to come alive on the page. I didn’t think about that being my phrase or words from the Lord, until a week later, when quite unexpectedly they came to life again.

I was having a particularly difficult evening and my sweet mom invited me to watch a movie at home with her. She turned on the television and one of her favorite pastors came on. She looked at me and asked me if I would like to watch him.

To be perfectly honest, I didn’t.  As I began to say the words, “No, I would rather not,” the pastor said, “Lean into God when things are difficult.” I couldn’t believe it!  At that exact moment, those words are the first words we hear as the television comes on!

I told my mom to leave the program on and we would watch a movie when this pastor was finished teaching.

The following week, was another difficult one. Unfair situations and disappointments seemed to plague my week. I felt frustration with God. I couldn’t understand Him. Why did it feel like He was withholding good things from me? I even asked Him, “Why is this happening to me Lord?”

I don’t know about you, but God doesn’t usually answer my “whys”. Being the Southern woman I am, when I am mad or upset, bake, shop and clean.

Well, let me tell you, I cleaned the house until it could pass a white glove test! I bathed the dogs, did all the laundry, and went to the gym, increasing the weights. I got mani/pedi, bought a new pair of shoes and baked enough cookies and muffins to feed the block … and I still didn’t have any answers.

As my niece so politely put it, “I know you’re sad, but I kinda like it; because the house looks awesome and you bake such great things when you are upset.”

Her statement was true enough and it did make me laugh. However, it also showed me the futility of my actions. No amount of cleaning, baking, working-out or shopping is going to answer the unknown whys in my life. Even if I had the answers to my whys, it wouldn’t change my situation or “my what ares.”

Now, there is nothing wrong with any of those things. However, they are not things, which will satisfy the longings in my soul.

I recently attended a bible study on Trials, and the speaker, Debbie Stuart said, “Stop asking God why and ask Him, What.”

“What do you want me to learn from this trial God?” As I knelt down beside my bed to pray, I asked God, “What, do you want me to learn Lord? I do not want to stay in this desert wasteland anymore. So what do I need to learn, so I can move on from here?”

It would be so easy if a booming voice said, “Do this.”  However, as I opened my bible study book to that day’s lesson, entitled, “Confessions of a Leaner,” a quiet voice spoke to me.  

It was a short lesson about on leaning into God when things are hard instead of running away.

I am a runner. When I feel hurt, rejection and especially unfairness, it causes me to want to run—and put up an automatic wall of anger to protect myself.

God does not always answer the “whys” in life. He does however, answer the “what’s.”

“What do you want me to do Lord? What do you want me to learn?” “What do you expect from me?” “What do you want me to change?” “What attitude is displeasing you?”

It sounds so simple, right? But, to lean onto something or into something, you have to have faith that it will hold you. You have to trust it.

So many times, when we are teaching our children, we encourage with words like, “You can do it!” “Go for it!” … and “You’ve got this.” There is nothing wrong with saying those things.

However, there are going to be times when they will not get this or make that, because plans and people will fail them. Therefore, the most important thing we can share with them and model for them, is how to lean into God on a daily basis.

That way, when the hard times come, (because they will), our kids will be prepared. It will be like second nature to trust and lean into God.


Psalm 9:10 (AMPC)

And they who know Your name [who have experience and acquaintance with Your mercy] will lean on and confidently put their trust in You, for You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek (inquire of and for) You [on the authority of God’s Word and the right of their necessity].

Sherry Shepherd is an experienced, adaptable professional specialized in writing for faith-based organizations. She has worked as an editor and writer for newspaper, movie guides, publishing houses, churches and several non-profits. Her scope of work includes corporate and fundraising materials, advertising, web, brochures, booklets, books, blogs and biblical training materials. However, her heart is drawn to any type of creative writing, where she can motivate while conveying a biblical message and telling a story. Sherry is the mother of three grown children, who have been the source of some of her greatest joy, laughter and material!