Recently I experienced something really great with my two girls. There was this moment, with each one of them, that God spoke to me powerfully through them…
A few nights prior to this, my wife and I gathered up our two girls for prayer before bed. We asked the girls what we could pray for them about. Our oldest shared this: I really want to see my friend. Pray that I see my friend soon. I really want to give her a hug. Now this particular friend of hers that she wanted us to pray for, well she doesn’t see very often. This friend that our daughter wanted to see is the grand-daughter of a friend of our girls grandma – so they only see their friend when their grandma does things with their friend’s grandma. But our oldest daughter wanted to see her and wanted us to pray that she sees her soon, because she missed her and wanted to give her a hug. So we prayed with her about this, and honestly, I didn’t think much more of her request…
Fast forward now a few days – we went to hear Francis Chan speak at another church. My anxiety level was pretty high as we drove there. We were late. I never took any opportunity to pause and gather myself that day. Just went from one thing, to the next. I was busy. Arriving late, waiting in a big line, trying to check our kids into the kid’s program. It was all too much for me to handle and I had a horrible attitude. I was a mean old grump for a few moments – to my wife, and to my kids. Not a moment I am proud of – as I hurt the feelings of the three most important people in my life. But rather than stopping, to say sorry, to share how I was feeling – I pressed on. Busy. Gotta go. Gotta get into church…(and oh the irony of that…)
Once into the church, we couldn’t find a seat, so we were sent to the overflow area, which was full. Then, we were sent to the video cafe. After the service we went to pick-up our girls and they had a great time. I had our younger daughter and Melanie had our older daughter. Getting through the crowds in the kid’s center was a bit hectic. I got outside and realized that Melanie and our older daughter were no longer behind us. So we waited. Finally they came out – and guess why they got delayed? Because God answered our oldest daughters prayer: she saw the friend she prayed for and was able to give her a hug.
The look on her face was amazing. She knew she prayed for something special. And God answered her prayers. Neither of our families goes to this church often, yet it was at this place that God answered her little prayer. Just because we get busy, and are surrounded by crowds, doesn’t mean that the Lord can’t still do amazing things. Through her, I saw God answer a prayer – one prayed in simple faith – but one that got my attention and said: stop, and trust in Lord – rest in Him – God is faithful.
As we drove to dinner, I prayed quietly to myself: Lord I’m sorry for my attitude today. I’m sorry for not spending time with you. I’m sorry God for speaking to my family in a harsh way tonight. I then looked at my wife and apologized to her and the girls. I was wrong. I made a choice earlier and it hurt her and it affected my kids. I was wrong and I was sorry.
We drove for a few more minutes, and here was a chance at redemption: my wife expressed now how she was feeling anxious about something. And how did I respond? Not like the forgiven Nick I should have. I responded, again – in such a negative way, and again, I spoke towards her in way that wasn’t loving or supportive. And again, after dinner, I was feeling pretty negative about my actions. I began to share, again, with my wife how I was sorry for how I had spoken to her. And again, I asked for her forgiveness.
Admitting you are wrong is tough – doing it twice in a row, is pretty hard. Learning from a mistake is so important. In that moment, I felt so crummy. I had such an “off” day. I had responded so poorly to so many things. It was embarrassing. I lacked so much joy and excitement. I was ashamed.
The car was pretty silent at that point. I was deep in thought, reflecting on everything. And from the back seat of the car, our youngest daughter told me she loved me. Sweet, right? It put a little smile on my face. But then something amazing happened. She started to sing. The words out of her mouth melted my heart and broke down my shame and embarrassment. She sang: God’s still working on me, to make me who He wants me to be…
God reminded me through the continued forgiveness of my wife what grace does to shame – it destroys it. God reminded me through the prayers of my daughter, a simple prayer of asking to see and hug her friend – that He is faithful and that I can truly trust in Him with every need and desire I have. And, the Lord spoke to me in this breakthrough moment of repentance through a little kids song, sung by my youngest daughter. It was as if the Lord Himself was right there, saying: Nick I love you and I am still at work in your life to make you who I want you to be.
I desire above else to be a great husband and great father. I want to encourage and lift-up my wife in all that we do together. And I want to be a loving and faithful example to my daughters. And seeing God at work through the prayer of one daughter and the song of another, it gives me tremendous joy – God’s desire to work in my life!
And, I hope what I learned about the Lord through my daughters encourages your heart and points you to the truth that God loves you too, and that He is at work in your life to make you who He longs for you to be. This is, what Brennan Manning says, is the furious longing of God that “the God I’ve come to know by sheer grace, the Jesus I met in the grounds of my own self, has furiously loved me regardless of my state – grace or disgrace. And why? For His love is never, never, never based on our performance, never conditioned by our moods – of elation or depression. The furious love of God knows no shadow or alteration or change. It is reliable. And always tender.” (The Furious Longing of God, Brennan Manning)
Through the tenderness of my children, God reminded me of the amazingness of His love. May you experience this life-changing, furious love of the Lord today…!
2 thoughts on “the things kids teach us”
Nick, this is beautiful. Raw and emotional and real and heartwarming. Thanks for being vulnerable and sharing.
Awesome, awesome, awesome! Made me teary-eyed. Love your gentle and humble heart, my friend. Melanie and the girls are super blessed to have you as a dad and father, and your church is super blessed to have you as a pastor. Hugs, Joanna