A few summers ago, my wife and I had the privilege of keeping our grandchildren for a few weeks in Montana. They were 8, 10 and 11. We normally saw them for a few days two or three times a year. I felt like Santa Claus, showering them with presents every time we saw them, then disappearing. We weren’t part of their daily lives. So we were excited to have a few weeks with them and looking forward to meaningful conversations.
We enrolled them in Vacation Bible School in a church in Billings. They weren’t excited about Vacation Bible School, but they agreed to give it a try. They loved it. On the second day, my wife was doling out one dollar bills to each of them and instructing them to place the dollar in the offering. Our 11-year-old granddaughter refused to accept the dollar. “I am going to give my own,” she said, a dollar she had earned the week before. “Your offering will have a special blessing,” I told her, “because it is your own gift and it costs you something.” I then told her about the poor widow who gave two small coins. “She has given more than all the rest of them,” Jesus said, “because she gave all that she had.” When I let them out, she bounced into church clutching her dollar a little more tightly and beaming a little more brightly.
The third day I picked them up from VBS and my 10-year-old grandson asked, “Granddaddy, what is a prostitute?” I hesitated a moment, a little stunned by the question. Then I told him, “A prostitute is a woman who has sex with men for money. Why do you ask?”
He replied, “I saw a billboard that said, ‘Before meth I had a daughter. Now I have a prostitute.’ What does that mean?” (He was one of those kids that reads everything.) I told him, “That means that someone had a daughter they loved very much who became addicted to drugs and started having sex with men for money so she could buy more drugs. It is a very bad thing.”
My 8-year old, wanting to be part of the conversation asked, “What does all THAT mean, granddaddy?” I was saved by his older brother who turned to him and said, “Don’t ask. It’s inappropriate information for us children.”
Teachable moments come when they will. We cannot predict them. It is kind of like playing baseball. You never know when the ball might be hit your way. You just have to always be ready to respond in the best way you know how.
Jesus was the master of using the teachable moment with His followers. Once a group of men brought a woman to Him who had been caught in the act of adultery. They stood ready to stone her according to the Law of Moses, but Jesus wrote something in the dirt beside her and challenged them. “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one they dropped their stones and left. When all were gone Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”
Life is filled with teachable moments when God wants to teach us a better way and help us teach our children and grandchildren.