“. . .and a little child will lead them“–Isaiah 11:6 (NIV)
At a recent church service, a father came forward to be baptized. While our church is growing and we have new people coming forward almost weekly to be baptized or join our congregation, this particular Sunday was special. For the man who came forward was led by an 8-year-old child, his daughter, to make a public pronouncement of his faith and accept his new identity in Christ through the celebration of baptism.
It’s not often that you see a child lead a parent to Christ. I heard sniffles around me in the congregation as teary-eyed adults were moved by the scene. I was one of them.
Searching the Internet for examples of children leading others to Christ, I came across a website with an archive of live radio broadcasts. The Christian site has a call-in radio program for listeners to ask questions concerning the Bible and their Christian faith. I was intrigued with one caller whose question concerned witnessing to parents.
“And after the earthquake, there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was the sound of a gentle whisper”— 1 Kings 19:12(TLB).
“I’d rather give up a kidney than my cell phone.” This statement from a 16-year-old appeared in a 2010 online article about teenagers and technology. This girl is now 20 and I wonder if she still feels the same way about her phone.
Walk into any restaurant or other venue, including church, I might add, and you’ll see, not only teenagers but adults glued to their cell phones. Whether it’s texting, posting on Facebook or Instagram or surfing the web, technology via cell phones has taken over our lives. I’m guilty too. However, I do turn my phone off for church and put it on silent while I’m in meetings or focused on my writing projects. Also, if possible, I try to avoid messaging and answering calls when I’m seated across the table during a meal with others.
In a recent blog post, “Empty Pocket, Full Attention” Brady Goodwin wrote, “I sometimes leave the house without my phone—on purpose. (Gasp!)”
Continuing, Goodwin added, “Despite the annoyance of anyone who may try to reach me, for an hour or two each day, I willfully decide to do without the ability of immediate communication or information from the outside world. This means no Twitter, no Instagram, no Facebook, no Google, no texts and no push notifications alerting me of the latest breaking news or the game’s score update. The only knowledge accessible to me is the knowledge I already possess.”
“They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” Psalm 92:14 (NIV).
When my oldest son, who is now 37, was born, my mother put a bumper sticker on her car. The words on the sticker, “If we’d known how much fun grandkids were, we’d had them first,” kind of hurt my feelings at the time. Then, when I became a grandmother in 2004, I understood what my mother meant. Grandchildren are a blessing as we grow older.
Recently, I attended a family funeral with my sons and grandchildren. The funeral was for a nephew, 32, who was killed in a car accident. He was the only biological child of his father. My nephew left behind a 12-year-old son who looks just like him. My heart ached, not only for the parents of my nephew, but for his son. I know the grandson will be a comfort to his grandparents in the coming days and years.
While attending the funeral, my 4-year-old grandson grew weary and wanted me to hold him. He fell asleep but awoke when a 12-minute video highlighting my nephew’s life through photos was shown. As Cash watched the video, I told him about my nephew and said, “Do you know he was your second cousin and what happened to him?” Cash nodded, and then said, “He’s in heaven with Jesus and Moses and the dinosaurs.”
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God” Psalm 43:5(NIV).
With the recent unexpected suicide of comedian and actor Robin Williams, many in the world struggle to understand what would lead someone, who seemed to have it all, to take his own life. Even though Robin candidly shared his lifelong struggles with depression and addictions, it’s still difficult to comprehend how a funny and kind man would be so desperate to end it all.
For those who saw a comedic genius on stage and in the movies, it might be harder to grasp the pain he often concealed. I recall reading an article about the famous comic about 10 years ago. The article revealed facts about the beloved actor’s childhood. As a child, he was overweight, shy and bullied by others in his class. Comedy became his relief and earned him friends.
Robin’s father, who was a senior executive at Ford Motor Company, was away much of the time and, according to some sources, when the elder Williams was home, the young boy found his father “frightening.” His mother also worked, leaving Robin to be cared for by the maids employed by the family. He claimed his upbringing left him with “an acute fear of abandonment and a condition he described as ‘Love Me Syndrome.’”
“Train a child in the way he should go. When he is old, he will not turn away from it”—Proverbs 22:6 (NIRV).
Although my parents weren’t regular churchgoers, they set an example of helping others. I can also remember my grandparents assisting others, especially my maternal grandmother, who was always baking or cooking and delivering food to others in need. She also shared the produce from her bountiful garden. All set an example for my sister and me.
Earlier this month I had the pleasure of working with an 11-year-old boy who was visiting his grandparents for a week. Twice a month, I volunteer at our church’s food pantry. Spencer was helping out—willingly I might add—by straightening and restocking shelves and delivering the baskets of food to the front where those in need were waiting. His gift for organizing was evident after I gave him initial instructions on what needed to be done. I was impressed. How many 11-year-olds want to spend part of their summer vacation helping others?
Jesus said, “You didn’t choose me, but I chose you”—John 15:16 (CEB)
A recent conversation between two of my grandchildren while we were eating supper brought back childhood memories of my own. My youngest grandson, Cash, will be starting school this year. He missed the cut-off date by two days last year, so he’ll probably be one of the older ones in his pre-kindergarten class. I’m guessing he’ll also be one of the tallest as he’s always been big for his age.
As we ate our supper of bacon, eggs, hash browns and biscuits, we began discussing the upcoming school year. Brennan, my oldest grandson who is nine, began to give advice to his younger cousin. The talk turned to bullying when Brennan said, “Cash, if you’re the smallest in your class, people will pick on you.”
My heart went out to him because I knew Brennan spoke from experience. He’s one of the smallest in his class. However, as Brennan began to explain to his cousin how he dealt with bullies, I had to smile. I knew God was working in my grandson’s life because I was seeing evidence of my answered prayers as Brennan spoke. I listened and then said, “Do you know why bullies pick on others, especially smaller people?”
“Rejoicing in hope. Patient in tribulation. Instant in prayer”—Romans 12:12 (Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition (DRA).
“Ma’am. Excuse me, ma’am.” I turned to seek the direction of the voice. Was someone addressing me? Since the woman behind the voice was the only other person on the sidewalk leading to the door of a local business, I stopped. From her attire, I decided she was probably looking for a handout. I was right, but it wasn’t the usual request.
“Ma’am,” she said again as she approached. “Can I get a cigarette from you?” She looked pitiful. She was walking with a limp and her hands were shaking.
“Sorry, but I don’t smoke,” I replied. I never have but I didn’t tell her that. As I turned to walk away, my first thought was one of judgment—why doesn’t she just quit that nasty habit? Before I had taken another step, I was convicted. When my father was alive, he smoked. He could never quit. I understand the addiction.
Immediately, I lifted the woman up in prayer, saying, “Lord, please deliver her from her nicotine addiction.”