There comes that time, hopefully, for every parent who is straining with every fiber of herself to do the best job possible at raising responsible, caring, well balanced humans when you get the gold star. The prize. The sign that you’re doing it right, or at least well enough to make a difference.
For Christian parents who seek to raise godly offspring that moment is no finer than when you see the spiritual seeds you’ve planted take root. For each of my three children who are now grown there remains in my mind a vivid snapshot from childhood for each of them when the rewards were so tangible, the fruit so evident that I wanted to cry. With relief. With joy. With gratitude that maybe, just maybe I was getting it right.
These scenes are simply slices of everyday life. Nothing dramatic or out of the ordinary. But isn’t that where our faith is most brilliantly on display?
Tucking our younger son, Jordan, into bed one night after the customary bedtime story and prayers I pulled back from a tight hug and asked rhetorically, “Jordan, do you even know how much Mommy loves you?” Without hesitation he pointed his little three-year-old finger in my face, tilted his head and replied, “Not as much as Jesus, Mommy. You’ll never love me more than Jesus does.” His grasping of such basic truth caught me off guard and made my heart expand inside my chest. “HE GETS IT!” I thought. “Even at this tender age, he actually GETS IT.”
In that moment I felt like God and I were giving each other the high five. It was so important to me to know that my children felt grounded in God’s love and that if for some unforeseen reason I could no longer be there for them that God always would be. Without realizing it my son had given me an invaluable gift that night, one I treasure to this day.
The indelible memory from my daughter, Molly, came at age five. It was Christmastime and I, as most moms, was all aflutter with shopping, decorating, wrapping, baking and planning. As she helped me hang lights on the Christmas tree we discussed the meaning of Christmas. Molly felt it only fitting that we have a birthday party for Jesus since it was, after all, HIS birthday. She insisted we order a cake with “Happy Birthday Jesus” on it, that we decorate with birthday decorations and that we treat it as we would any other family member’s birthday occasion. I agreed and the other family members were invited to the party. The day before the event as we were hanging crepe paper streamers and festive balloons I casually asked my five-year-old what she was going to give Jesus for his birthday. I expected her to respond by naming one of the toys popular in her age group or perhaps a bag of goodies like candy and gum, all things that to a child would be as precious as the gifts of the magi upon his birth. Instead I looked up to see a very serious little girl holding her hand over her heart as she quietly uttered, “I am going to give him ME.” Her sincerity and certainty of what was an appropriate gift to give Him left me humbled and in awe.
My last memory also has to do with gift giving and Christmas. My dad had died when our older son, Matt, was not quite four. The following Christmas he announced one day that he wanted to go to the store to buy PawPaw a Christmas gift. I explained to him that PawPaw lived in heaven with Jesus now and that we had no way to get the present to him. “I know that,” he replied, “but I want to wrap it up and give it to Grandma because she’ll probably be going to heaven before the rest of us and she can give it to him.” I took him to the store where he picked out a small gift he thought his grandfather would enjoy. We then brought it home and carefully wrapped it up. When we went to visit my mom he soberly explained who the present was for and what she was supposed to do with it. She promised to keep it someplace safe until she went to heaven to see PawPaw and showed him the shelf where she would keep it in her closet. My mom passed away last year at the age of 89 and I don’t doubt that the gift she gave my dad was the recounting of a small grandson’s faith in things eternal, in life everlasting and in love that never dies.
I thank God for these treasured moments tucked in between days of ordinary activity. For it’s in these moments that you feel the nod of approval from Father God and you sense in your innermost self a whisper that says, “Yes! You’re getting it right!”