Friday was my kids’ last day of school until who knows when. So I decided to go to Costco for my third stock-up grocery run of the week. I’m not hoarding, I just have seven people in the house. Who eat. And eat. And eat. And eat. And one of our seven has a suppressed immune system. It seemed like a good idea to take one last opportunity to prepare to lay low for a while.
When I arrived half an hour before the store opened, the line outside already snaked clear around to the back of the building. As we finally entered, the man behind me rammed my cart with his own, hard, twice. Within minutes, I decided I needed more space and abandoned my cart for a flatbed. I felt like I was in a video game: swooping forward when there was an opening in an aisle, or pulling back to let someone else go through; making split-second decisions about how many jugs of half and half and how many gallons of milk; trying to think of everything we might possibly need as quickly as possible before the checkout lines reached all the way back to the empty toilet paper shelves.
It was clearly not a normal day at Costco. So I had to laugh when the receipt checker at the exit door asked brightly, “How’s your day going?”
How was my day going? Momentarily stunned by the absurdity of such an ordinary question on such an extraordinary day, I snorted and waved at my flatbed. “Oh, you know…” The bags of frozen fruit threatened to slip off the pile of cereal boxes as I forced a chuckle. “Just feeding teenagers in an apocalypse!”
But if the last week has revealed anything, it’s that our kids need more than food. When I woke my children last Friday and informed them that it was the last time they would have to wake up for school for a while, I expected cheers of happiness. But my ten-year-old started crying. “I’m scared,” he whimpered. And a few days later, when I had to tell my extrovert fifteen-year-old to cancel the large nighttime game of Sardines in the park she’d organized with all her friends, she was angry. People do not live by bread alone, I keep reminding myself. In these days of anxieties running high, we’re all starved for spiritual nourishment.
The other night at dinner, talk turned to the Bible. My husband is a pastor, but we’re typically a little haphazard about our kids’ spiritual formation. We don’t always do a great job of encouraging (or modelling) a disciplined life of faith. But almost everybody chimed in to say what part of the Bible they’d recently chosen to read on their own. “I’m in First Kings,” said the thirteen-year-old. “I’m reading Matthew,” said the fifteen-year-old. “I’m reading the devotional Grandma sent us,” said the ten-year-old. It’s not that these kids are overly pious do-gooders. It’s that they’re hungry.
So, during these socially distanced days, my husband and I have decided to get a little more intentional about feeding our children. In addition to stocking up on cereal and milk, we’re going to stock up on Scripture. Every night at dinner, as a family, we’re going to memorize another verse of the book of Phillippians. What better time than now to store up words like “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” and “do not be anxious about anything” in our spirits?
Last night was our first attempt. Like little baby birds, each person at the table piped up in turn to attempt, with much laughter, to remember that Paul and Timothy are servants of Christ Jesus but all God’s holy people are in Christ Jesus. Verse one got mostly down the hatch. Tonight, we’ll review it and move on to verse two.
“Eat this book,” said the Lord to Ezekiel. Especially in an apocalypse. The teenagers are hungry.
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