Few things bring me greater joy than watching my husband and my kids interact. Johnny is such a great daddy and he is able to play with the boys the way that boys are supposed to play. I try to play swords and pirates and power rangers but when I watch Johnny play with Ezra I see how lacking my “play like a boy” skills truly are. I won’t stop trying, but I really need to practice more.
A couple of evenings ago I was in the bedroom cleaning up after bath time. I don’t know about you, but after bath time at our house there is an ocean of water on the floor, clothes littered everywhere that seem to have multiplied somehow, and more wet towels than seem necessary for two small children. Anyway, I was cleaning up and I heard Ezra run out of his room gasping and exclaiming that he was scared in his room because there were monsters in there. I headed towards him to comfort him but Johnny had already dropped what he was doing and was kneeling on the floor in front of Ezra. I stopped in my doorway to listen to their conversation.
Daddy – “Ezra, there is no reason for you to be scared because monsters aren’t real. But even when we feel afraid of something God is always with us and he will protect us from anything scary.”
Ezra – “Okay daddy.”
So simple. So sweet. So quick to trust.
As I sat on the couch with Ezra a few minutes later, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, God will protect me from monsters and even from cactus monsters (apparently cactuses are scary).” I replied, “That’s right Ez.” His next comment caught me off guard…
“But God’s not here yet.”
I felt like I was searching for something to say in reply for about ten minutes, but in reality I think I replied right away with something along the lines of, “Oh Ezra, God is always here! We can’t see him, but he is alway right there next to you.” Or something else straight out of the Christianity for Beginners textbook. But in my mind, once again, the simplicity and innocence of something my son said had shaken me.
Ezra was talking about the fact that God was not physically present yet, that he couldn’t see him or touch him so he must not be there. But how often, as mature adults, many of us who have been Christians for years, do we walk through something difficult, perhaps even tragic, and we don’t feel God, or hear God, or we don’t understand how he could let something like this happen to us, so we ASSUME that “God’s not here yet”? We try to survive through the hardship the best we can, all the while not turning to the one who can truly make our burden light, because he didn’t show up in the way that WE expected him to so we don’t think he’s really there.
I know I have done this more times than I’d like to acknowledge. Especially in my lifelong battle with fear and anxiety, in the worst of days, when I should be on my knees at the feet of my heavenly father, crying out to him for healing and comfort, instead I have a tendency to doubt that he is really there, I doubt that he is really listening, and I doubt that he has any intention of ever healing me or making my burden any lighter.
Shame on me.
I know my God better than that, I know who he is and how he loves me, I know that if my heart breaks for my kids when they are sad that God’s heart breaks even more for me when I am struggling. But even after a lifetime of knowing and loving my God, when hardship comes, I still have the tendency to go into self preservation mode and assume that the only one with my best interest in mind is myself. And then I live in survival mode.
I survive. But I don’t thrive.
And just when I really and truly deserve to be given up on, God once again shows how deeply, how endlessly, and how unconditionally he loves me. He gently uses my son to remind me of the simple truth that God is always here.
Ugh, how many times must he so gently and so lovingly remind me that he will NEVER leave me and he will NEVER forsake me? How many times will I be reminded and then forget again? Hopefully it will stick this time but the beautiful thing about our Jesus is that he will remind me if I forget again. Just like I will remind Ezra a million times that he doesn’t need to be afraid of monsters, and if he forgets again and is frightened then I will remind him yet again, because I adore him and I want him to live free of fear, free of heavy burdens that he need not carry, I want him to thrive. And isn’t that what Jesus wants for each of us to?
Oh, I think I forgot to tell you the second part of Ezra’s comment to me, the part that made me realize how much more like my son I need to be. He said…
God’s not here yet… but I still love him SO SO SO much!”
Just because Ezra couldn’t see God in that moment, and he thought maybe he wasn’t there, he wasn’t doubting his God or his ability like I sometimes find myself doing, he was making a simple observation. He didn’t see God at that moment but that did not change how much he LOVED his God or how much he trusted that he would show up if indeed there were monsters that needed to be fought off.
What a wonderful child. What a wonderful God for speaking to me through such a wonderful child.
Today I am walking around with an old truth in my heart that I have been reminded of in the sweetest of ways.
There will be more days when I cannot feel God, it will seem that he is not “here yet”, but he is here, and he loves me even when I struggle to understand his ways. Oh, and even when I don’t feel him, I still love him… SO SO SO much.
Thank you Jesus and Ezra for the reminder.
Maybe we won’t have to hide under blankets anymore. Maybe we will. But I will continually remind Ezra that he is safe from monsters, not because of the blanket but because of how much his Jesus loves him.
Cherish the moment.