I’ve had some parents share with me recently how their children have perceived God in their lives, for the four-year-old, God was an abstraction until they began to talk about Jesus and his coming to earth and teaching and healing and loving everyone unconditionally–God incarnate is what this child understood.
For another, it was the almost seven-year-old who felt a holy trembling in the ground as he led a hymn circle that caused him to sit back down quietly in wonder.
For my own daughter, recently, I asked her if she still talked with God. She said, “Yes.” I prompted further and she explained to me that, at school on the playground, by herself, she talked to God.
And Samuel–in I Samuel 3, how did he encounter God? He thought the voice of God was the voice of his long time shepherd and mentor Eli, the priest whose eyesight was failing and was laying down for the night. Each of the three times God called Samuel, he ran obediently to Eli to ask him what he needed. Finally, the third time, Eli realized what was happening and instructed Eli to go back, lay down and wait for God to call again.
I was serving recently with a program in the city and I hitched a ride along with a sweet couple whose twenty-year-old daughter has been in this full-time inner city service program for two years and was going back for a final third year. They were excited, this was graduation night and they’d driven all the way down from Michigan to be a part of it.
I found out later that her senior year of high school, she was set to receive a full scholarship at a university up North, they had visited the campus six times–six times. And then she served for the summer down here in Atlanta and knew this was the place that God wanted her to stay. The dad, telling the story, was clearly choked up. I couldn’t tell if he was proud of his little girl serving God whole-heartedly or upset about her giving up that full scholarship–maybe a little of both.
There’s the conflict, we raise our children to know God, to talk to him, to perceive His Son and to be attuned to his voice and then God calls, in His beautiful, majestic, holy voice, the voice like rushing waters –and when He does, our feathers get ruffled, because it doesn’t look like what we think it should. They are called far away or are prompted to sacrifice or to go through a fiery trial, or like Samuel, are called to do some really, really hard stuff.
So whose turn is it thento listen? We’ve spoken it, we’ve lived it out and it’s time for us to step back and let God move.
Is there something holding you back from letting God speak into your child’s life? What can we do know to prepare our hearts for that moment when our dreams collide with God’s purposes for them?