Monday, December 15, 2014

One can learn a lot from a 7-year-old...

Let me preface today’s blog by saying that I’ve really wrestled with whether or not I should even share it. When faced with similar scenarios in the past, I have either opted to not pass it along at all or simply make the person anonymous. However, the more I’ve thought about it, I think it would be wrong for me to not share the following story with you. So here goes…

One day last week while we were walking home from the bus stop, Mati (our 7-year-old daughter) explained that she had something to tell me and that it was “kinda good and kinda bad.” Obviously I was anxious to hear the news, so I encouraged her to proceed…

From our camping trip 2 years ago...
Mati: “Well, there is this girl on our bus and she was crying today because her dad is in the army and he’s gonna have to be gone for a long time…She is scared for him and really sad because she is going to miss him.”

I nodded in agreement and continued to listen…

Mati: “So I asked her if she had prayed about it. She said that she prayed last night before bed. So I asked her if she wanted to pray now.

The girl said yes. So she prayed and then Mati prayed.

Mati: “Then we worshipped!”

Me: “You worshipped?!”

Mati: “Yeah, we sang that song about God being jealous for us…?”

She looked up at me like I would know what she was talking about. So I guessed, “Oh How He Loves Us?”

Mati: “Yes, that one!”

Now that’s the gist of the story. I never asked about the “bad” part because I assumed I knew what it was (the issue that made Mati’s friend sad to start with). So all I left out was my sappiness that followed, and there’s no need to bore you with that, right? Anyway, needless to say, I’m extremely proud of our little girl for her sweet response to a friend in need. I was immediately stirred with gratitude and had to work really hard to not let my happy tears be seen. Hearing of Mati’s encounter, challenged me, and somewhat convicted me as well.

Why am I so hesitant to respond like that? I’m a pastor for crying out loud! I pray for people and with people, and because I love others and respect their eardrums, I try to keep my singing to a minimum. But my response would not have been anything like Matilyn’s. Maybe I would have asked what was wrong, but that would have been about it. Mati went straight to the only source of healing and comfort; she and her friend petitioned the Lord for help. Even after the girl said she had prayed already, Mati offered up the thought of doing it again. Isn’t that precious?! Picture a couple tiny second grade girls praying and singing to the Lord on a noisy bus. Having formerly been a school bus driver, I can tell you that personally, I would be far more likely to be found singing hymns in a jail cell, a la Paul & Silas (Acts 16:25-34), than to be heard rejoicing on an afternoon bus route.

But please hear me when I say this: God is the only One in this story worthy of awe! In that moment when my soul was moved, it was because the Holy Spirit allowed me to see how the Father had graciously used our youngest. And listen, I think Matilyn is pretty stinkin’ wonderful just as she is. My wife and I don’t need her to become a bus stop evangelist to gain our affection. She already has it – all of it. All the love we have to give is hers already. In fact, even on the days that her disobedient behavior prompts us to carry-out those “un-fun” forms of discipline, she is loved like crazy in the midst of those moments too. If you are a parent, certainly you get that.

Here’s the deal… If Mati is tender toward the Lord, that is only by His grace. If her heart is compelled with compassion for others, that is simply a mark of His undeserved goodness. There is no credit that my wife and I can take from this story; no praise due to any but God alone. Not to be missed here either is God’s grace in convicting and challenging me. For through a simple conversation with a 7-year-old on our 5-minute walk home from the bus stop, I was faced with some important thoughts to consider: Why is it that my faith is so often not very child-like (Luke 18:15-17)? Why am I so timid? What is the source of my doubts?

How do you respond to those around you? Do you even see them? Are you hesitant to share of your faith in our risen Savior? If so, have you identified the primary reason? Is there anything you can do to grow in this regard? Are you tangibly positioning yourself to mature and be obedient? These are many of the questions we must hash through. Though we may not particularly love the answers we discover, taking such inventory is a worthwhile endeavor for us all. 

Father, grow our trust in You and grant unto us a willing spirit. Give us spiritual eyes to see and your grace to go. For our joy and Your glory, Lord increase our faith. Amen

Matt Fowler - Family Pastor of HS

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