I think it’s time for us to stop being afraid for our children.
Tonight I heard the story of a man and his wife who were just watching tv one night, when the man said they began to discuss the condition of the world, and the direction in which it seems the world is going. The man said that as they talked, they both became more afraid. As a matter of fact, he described the feeling as almost a sense of panic that settled over the both of them about the future of their children, and about the world in which they would live as adults.
The man said then that he and his wife decided to pray that the Lord would help them with their fear, and that they were reminded that the Lord is God and is in control, and that He has His hand on their children. And as I was listening to the man tell this story, I was thinking to myself – but it sounds like that isn’t enough.
When the man explained that he knew that God’s hand was on his children, he said it not with a tone of joy, or freedom, but more with a sense of resignation.
And I’ve been asking myself, why do we believers continue to live in submission to fear for our children?
A few days ago we were at my mom’s house in Atlanta, preparing for our journey with our 2 kids back to St. Petersburg. The trip was easily the most difficult we’ve ever had to Russia. If it had not been for a few people in our lives who went way out of their way to help us, I do not think we would have made it. I told myself as we were landing in St. Petersburg, and as I saw how exhausted both of our children were physically and emotionally, that we needed to give our family at least a week to recover before we tried to do any major excursions or gatherings at our home.
Our first night back in St. Petersburg, at about 4 am our 1 year-old woke up, exhausted, but extremely jet-lagged and unable to fall back asleep for 2 hours. At some point during that time, while both of our children sat in our bed watching tv, Charlie and I were in the kitchen, and I started crying. I said to Charlie, “This trip was too hard. It isn’t worth how hard this trip was.”
Charlie answered me by simply saying, “I agree.” That was early Thursday morning.
On Saturday evening, we decided to get out and go to the service of one of the churches with which we work. On this particular evening, the church was holding a prayer service. They had prepared several cups with oil to be used for anointing and praying for one another. Most of the adults were at the front of the church, laying hands on and praying for one another. The few kids were mostly staying in the back of the church playing and running around while a couple of the mothers and fathers kept a watch over them.
A few of us were standing off to the side of the service quietly chatting while others were still praying, when our 4 year old, Isabel, came up to me and whispered, “Momma, what are they doing up there?”
I answered her, “They are praying for each other.”
“I want them to pray for me,” she said.
So I took her hand and we walked up front and waited for someone to be free to come pray for her. After waiting a couple of minutes, she turned to me and whispered, “Momma, I want you to pray for me.”
So I put my hand on her head and prayed that the Lord would guide her and keep her and all of the things a mother ever prays for her daughter. She smiled and ran back to play some more with the other kids.
Then a few minutes later, she came back to me and said, “Momma, they are dipping their fingers in those cups and they are touching their heads with it.”
I said, “Yes, that is oil that they are using to anoint each other.”
“Momma, I want you to do that to me,” she said.
This time I hesitated. “Are you sure?” I asked.
“Yes,” she answered.
So I walked over to a cup that was sitting on a table up front, dipped my fingers in, walked back and knelt in front of my daughter. She leaned forward a bit as I traced a cross with my oily finger on her forehead.
“Isabel,” I said, “I anoint you in the name of Jesus Christ.” She looked up at me, smiled, and said, “OK.” And then ran off to play, finally satisfied.
Now another little girl had been up front with her grandmother, and had been prayed for. And I imagine that it was seeing the prayer minister praying for the other little girl that sparked Isabel’s curiosity. Whatever it was that brought Isabel to ask to be anointed in that service on that day, however, really matters very little. The fact is, she was anointed. And to my great honor, not only did the Lord allow me to witness it, He chose to use me to do it.
And so I’ve since been thinking about some other kids who were anointed by the Lord.
Mary, mother of Jesus, guessed by scholars to be about 13 when she became pregnant, then married. She was 9 months pregnant when she went on foot with her husband to Bethlehem, where she gave birth to Jesus in a barn.
David, described as a youth when he told King Saul that he wanted to go out and fight the Philistine, Goliath, after the entire Israelite army had sat afraid in their camp, listening to Goliath’s taunts for 40 days before David showed up.
Both of these children of God experienced great suffering at different times.
Both received condemnation and judgment from others in their communities because of their choice to obey the Lord.
Both lost children to death during their lives.
But both were mighty, valiant warriors in the kingdom of God. Both knew the Lord intimately and walked with faith in Him that could move mountains.
James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The question is not about whether our children will suffer in this life. Our children are going to suffer. That is just the way the world in which we live works.
I think, instead, that what I should be asking myself is, “Am I going to allow my fears to cripple my children? Are my doubts about God going to inhibit their journey in Him toward becoming the mighty warriors in Christ He created them to be? Is MY relationship with Him so intimate that I can truly sense when He’s telling me to give them to Him, and do I trust Him enough to obey?”
It has been a difficult journey, but I can say honestly that we are all feeling very blessed to get to be here with our brothers and sisters in St. Petersburg again. So many faces are in my mind as I think of all that others have done for us to be able to be here to do this work. Blessings to you, my dear brothers and sisters, fellow warriors for the Kingdom, children of the Living God.