With the end times barreling down on us, now is a good time to think of all those young souls who God has temporarily put in our care: our kids. Since we’ve been given such a sacred trust, and since the Holy Spirit has so graciously given us a heads up as to the kinds of chaos He’s going to be unleashing on this world, there is a clear responsibility on our part to try and do something to prepare our kids for what is coming. So how do we do this? Certainly not by terrorizing them with mental images of chaos and a bunch of overwhelming “what ifs”. Obsessing over future knowledge isn’t going to help anyone. Teaching our children to focus on certain essential truths about their own relationships with God is the best way that we can prepare them for what’s coming.
Terror and panic are tools which God uses to drive rebels back to Him. They aren’t things that He wants His obedient kids getting stuck in. When Christians who sincerely care about pleasing God fall into the grip of negative fear, it’s because they have lost their focus on truth. As we review essential truths with our kids, it will be a good chance to review those truths ourselves. Tools for calming a frightened mind and frantic emotions are going to be desperately needed once terrifying headlines start hitting the news. God is going to be moving in unpredictable ways during the end times—He could visit your neighborhood with His terrifying powers at any time. Where is your mind going to go when you start hearing the sound of people screaming outside? Before you even rush to a window to see what’s happening, God wants your focus to be on the fact that He is right there with you, and in total control of the situation. God does not want His obedient souls to be melting in fear. He wants us to be calm role models for others. We need to be the souls who are keeping a grip on essential truths in the midst of all the chaos. With their limited life experience and their dependency on you, your kids need you to help them get equipped with emergency response patterns that are going to help them run towards God, not away from Him. Trials are fabulous opportunities for progressing forward in our individual relationships with God. With the right kind of preparation, we can all head into this period ready to grow and thrive.
GOD IS ALWAYS WITH US
The first truth your kids need to have drilled into their little brains is that God is ALWAYS with them. Amid the chaos of end time events, we’re going to see a lot of kids getting separated from their parents, and a lot of families getting fractured with loss. God will be doing a lot of intentional rearranging of family units. Kids who just saw their parents get crushed under some collapsing skyscraper are going to suddenly be in urgent need of new guardians. God may very well ask YOU to step up to the plate. If God makes some freak tornado appear out of nowhere and rip up most of the homes in your neighborhood, He may tell you to open up YOUR home as a shelter for those who are suddenly out on the street. We need to be ready to serve Him in any way. But we also need to take care of the responsibilities God has already given us, which includes our kids. Should we get separated from them, we want them to understand that they are not alone. God is with the saved and unsaved alike, and He is intimately involved in EVERY life. So even if your child has not yet reached the point of personally submitting to Jesus, it is vital that they understand that God is with THEM. He’s not only with them, He is focused on them, guiding them, and caring about them.
GOD IS ALWAYS IN CONTROL
When chaos is happening around us, the belief that things are spinning out of control really spikes our fear level. Your kids need to understand that God is ALWAYS in absolute control—even when bad things are happening. Now if you’re exposing your kids to mainstream Christian teaching by sending them to Sunday School or a Christian school, realize that they’re being taught that God is NOT involved when “bad things” are happening. This is an outrageous lie which is setting your kids up for all kinds of unnecessary fear and panic. The Holy Spirit has already told us that He’s going to be using copious amounts of terror and suffering to drive rebels into submission during the final judgment period. Remember the ten plagues on Egypt? Take Moses out of that story and imagine those events suddenly happening to your nation with no prior warning or explanation. The spread of horrific diseases, ginormous hail bludgeoning people to death, the mass destruction of crops, water turning into blood—don’t all these things fit our human definition of “evil” and “bad”? Of course they do. And according to your theology, where is God when evil is running rampant in this world? The Church says God has either fallen asleep, become distracted, or become temporarily paralyzed by Satan. The Church refuses to see God’s hand at work in such events, that’s why she’s always praying for Him to hurry up and make it stop. How brazen would it be to swat God on the hand and say, “Bad God! Stop doing that!”? Yet this is how irreverently the Church talks to God all the time, and she doesn’t even bat an eye. If GOD is doing something, obviously He WANTS to do it. So how dare we heap on the criticism? How dare we tell GOD that what He’s doing is bad and order Him to knock it off? This is how mainstream Christian teachers are teaching your kids to talk to God: whenever they see Him doing something they don’t like, they should 1) completely deny His sovereignty by pretending Satan is overriding Him, and then 2) pray for God to stop it. This snarky attitude isn’t going to take your child anywhere good during the end times. The Holy Spirit’s patience with our irreverence is going to be noticeably shorter during these days, so now is the time to get your kids straightened out on the subject of God’s sovereignty. God is in absolute control of all things. NOTHING happens in this world that God doesn’t WANT to happen. Nothing happens that God isn’t MAKING happen. God always has GOOD REASONS for making bad things happen. God finds it highly insulting when we try to pretend He isn’t in control.
Now your kid is going to need help with this concept of a good God doing nasty things. Here’s where you need to step up with some education about Divine motivations. God loves all people and He wants everyone to come to Him. But God doesn’t force salvation on anyone—He gives them the option of defying Him and ending up in Hell. Now is not the time to pussyfoot around the topic of Hell with your kids. We aren’t doing them any favors by presenting God as some smiling pushover who takes everyone we love to Heaven just because we love them. God is the King—if we don’t obey Him, there are serious consequences. When we intentionally hide this truth from our kids, we end up in big trouble with God.
God has arranged things so that you have enormous credibility with your kids from the moment they are born. You’re supposed to be using their trusting nature to expose them to essential truths about God: who He is, how much He loves them, and what He requires of them in order for them to obtain His salvation. We need to be careful not to put obstacles between our kids and God by teaching them a bunch of lies. When you know there’s a 99.99% chance that Aunt Martha went to Hell, but you tell your kids that she’s turned into some angel who is looking down on them from Heaven, you are BOLDFACED LYING and you are getting yourself in big trouble with God. No, it’s really not okay to make a mockery out of salvation and act like God’s wrath is non-existent. It’s really not okay to teach your kid that eternity is some “choose your own ending” affair. Hell is real. God’s wrath is real. God’s disgust with rebellion is going to be in front of our faces like never before during the end times, and you need to prepare your child to recognize what is going on. God is GOOD, but God has BOUNDARIES. He doesn’t let people mock Him forever.
Now clearly we need to be sensitive in the way that we present tough truths to our kids. We don’t go on at length about Aunt Martha roasting in eternal torment. But instead of making empty promises, we say, “IF she submitted to Jesus, then she’s certainly in Heaven. But unfortunately, we don’t know for sure that she made that choice. Obedience is a very serious issue to God. He says that once we die in this world, it’s too late to change our attitudes towards Him. If we haven’t gotten right with Him, we are going to end up in Hell.” We don’t encourage our kids to view the dead as their supernatural guardians. This kind of idolatry infuriates our jealous Creators. Instead, your kids need to know that God loves them a billion times more than any humans ever could, and the fact that HE is always with them is more than enough. Once loved ones die, they are GONE, and there is no way to communicate with them. Should God choose to kill YOU off before your kids during the end times, you want to have done what you could to steer your kids away from spending the rest of their lives praying to you for protection and talking to some photograph of your face. Such a focus won’t take them anywhere good. They need to see God as the One who is always with them, and He is the One they need to be talking to when they are alone and afraid.
GOD LISTENS TO KIDS
Your kids need to know that their prayers and concerns are just as important to God as those of adults. They need to be told that God is always listening to them and that He cares about the things they care about. If you’re not in a habit of praying with your kids, now is a good time to start. Encourage them to pray out loud, then listen to the kinds of things they pray about and look for opportunities to encourage them in positive theological directions. For example, suppose your young son prays for God to help him get picked for the baseball team at school. That gives you a good chance to say, “God knows how important baseball is to you and what’s important to you is important to Him. But He also knows the future, and sometimes He can see that things which seem like good ideas to us will turn out to be crummy later on. So if He doesn’t let you get picked, don’t take it as a rejection. View it as Him helping you by not giving you something that He knows wouldn’t be as great as you think. God wants you to have His best, not anything less.”
If your daughter is feeling one down to the popular girls at school and you hear her asking God to help her be more like them, it’s a good time for you to say, “God totally understands why you wish you could be like them. But the truth is that God loves you just as you are. He loves variety—He doesn’t want everyone to be the same. And He doesn’t view them as better or prettier or smarter than you. When God looks at us, it’s like He’s seeing a garden full of beautiful flowers—each flower is a different color and shape, but they’re all wonderful in their own way. God wouldn’t trade you for anyone. He created you just as He wanted you to be and He sees great beauty in you.”
With time running out, it’s more important than ever that we step up our efforts to help our kids understand how personally God is involved in their lives and how much He cherishes each and every one of them. We don’t want them to see us as their only protectors when the chaos starts. We want them to KNOW that God is right there with them at all times—even when we can’t be. We want to help our kids develop positive mental images of God holding them and listening to them and guarding them. We want to emphasize how powerful and huge and good God is so that they will feel secure and safe in His care. We want to help them understand that even when God is doing things that seem scary and bad, He’s trying to help people make important choices that will affect their eternal futures.
Death is going to be a major theme during the end times, and your kids need to be prepared ahead of time with a correct understanding of what happens when people die. If your kids are saved, it’s time to pour on the good news about why they don’t need to fear dying themselves, because God is going to whisk them off to a wonderful Heaven.
If your kids haven’t yet come to the point where they have personally submitted to Jesus, don’t hand out false reassurances. Instead, you need to be clear about the fact that God only gives us a limited amount of time to respond to Him correctly. Death needs to be presented as the simple transition to another world that it is. There’s no need for death to be painted in some frightening, mysterious light. We Christians understand what happens when we die because God has told us.
Your kids need to understand that God is the only One who controls when people die. No one dies early, and no one dies late. You need to go over the fact that death is when God takes our souls out of our bodies like a man getting out of a car or a pilot jumping out of a plane. Since our kids will be seeing a lot of footage of corpses in the news, we want to minimize their distress by helping them understand that once God has separated soul from body, the body itself is just a shell. It doesn’t matter what happens to bodies after death—they have no more use once their souls have departed. It’s important that kids understand that souls are ALWAYS in God’s hands. He is the One who carries all souls into eternity. No one gets stuck on the way. Demons can’t snatch anyone’s soul away in mid-flight. Kids pick up some strange ideas, so it’s good to discuss death with them and clear up any misunderstandings they might have. You might want to start by having them tell you what they think happens when people die—that will give you an idea of where you need to clarify things.
Our goal in preparing our kids for the end times is to reduce their fear by helping them keep their focus on God being with them. It is focusing on positive truths which protects us from anxiety and deception. It is confidence in God’s goodness and an understanding of His positive goals and absolute control that helps us stay calm when the rest of the world is in full blown panic. As parents who want to do right by God, we want to make sure we’ve done our part in helping our kids stay firmly anchored in truth when the wild ride starts. Make yourself available for the Holy Spirit to use in this most important charge of preparing young souls to cling tightly to their Shepherd during the end times. Some up front preparation and a few focused conversations can go a long way to helping your kids thrive in their own walks with God later on.