Andrew is away for a few days at the moment, at a New Wine Leader’s conference, I’m really praying he is fed, refreshed, renewed in his sense of purpose & calling. Part of me is a bit envious, it can be too easy to get so busy with the ‘doing’ bit of our calling that unless we ‘go away’ – be intentional – about listening, we can fall into the pattern of hearing the voices of a diary, or other’s opinions, or our own doubts and limitations first before listening out for the most precious voice who speaks into our everyday.
Meanwhile I’m at home! And yes it has meant juggling a few extras (but Andrew the chickens are fine!! They have not been forgotten), and B & A have had to be a little more independent than usual & walk to school without us; and as always seems to happen it is a week with a few extra meetings & a bit more prep than usual to do – some visits to tutor groups at secondary school to lead their reflections, I’ve been given the privilege of speaking at our Women’s world day of prayer service tommorrow, and it’s all age Mother’s Day service on Sunday which I’m bringing together & leading with Andrew. So I have been trying to listen…
…and isn’t that such a bundled mixture of doubt, moments of truth and faith, failure and frustration, precious phrases that come to entwine us and weave His presence into our thoughts and struggles and mundane business! His precious words gently tugging us, winning us, wooing us back into his presence even as we struggle to switch off to all the other voices within and without calling us to give our full attention elsewhere…
Children, can you hear me?
Of course you can!
Just call on me, and I will answer you.
(‘Children can you hear me’. Brad Jersak)
The theme for the service tommorrow is ‘Receive children. Receive me’;
The people brought children to Jesus, hoping he might touch them. The disciples shooed them off. But Jesus was irate and let them know it: “Don’t push these children away. Don’t ever get between them and me. These children are at the very center of life in the kingdom. Mark this: Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Then, gathering the children up in his arms, he laid his hands of blessing on them. (Mk 10:13-16 The MSG)
so I have been reflecting again on just how Jesus values the innate spirituality in each of us, regardless of age or social standing, we are made for relationship with the living God, and he calls out to each of us ‘children, can you hear me?’. Children weren’t valued, they weren’t even counted (literally – a head count meant ‘men’ were counted, not women or servants or children) so Jesus, crouching down to look the little ones in the eye and gently draw them into the centre of what he was doing & what he was about must have shocked many that day.
He put a child in the middle of the room. Then, cradling the little one in his arms, he said, “Whoever embraces one of these children as I do embraces me, and far more than me—God who sent me.” (Mk 9:37 The MSG)
I have been, off and on, continuing to explore the book by Brad Jersak ‘Children can you hear me?’. This week T chose it again for one of the bedtime stories and we have reached a page about meeting Jesus in the Bible stories, allowing ourselves to imagine the story & step in ourselves. Once we imagine ourselves in the story the invitation is to look for Jesus, What is he doing? What is he saying? Do I want to speak to him?
So we had a go, she is getting used to the pattern of the book now and it’s invitations, she repeats as if to herself every time a phrase he introduces at the very beginning about hearing and seeing with our heart’s eyes and ears, then she closes her eyes and joins in. She described to me the story of the storm on the lake and disciples in the boat, how Jesus like a ghost walked out towards them on the water and they were scared.
‘where are you T, are you in the boat too?’
‘I am but I’m going to jump out like the disciple who wanted to run to Jesus’
‘can you do it? can you get to Jesus?’
‘the waves are cold and big mummy, the disciple is sinking, I think I will be sinking too’
‘what is Jesus doing?’
‘its ok mummy he is holding on tight to me, I won’t sink’
‘what does that feel like?’
‘um…strong, … and silky…’
I love how the encounter in prayer left T looking for words… (and I love the ones she chose!)…we lose that a bit as we get older and somehow translate our experience of his presence immediately into phrases and words we have learnt are appropriate. Children, often especially mine I feel, say it how it is as they encounter it – and I learn so much from them, goodness my faith needs their insight!
I went from that moment with T in God’s presence, pondering. ‘strong & silky’. Tender. True. Trustworthy. Eyes full of love and compassion attentive and ready to rescue.
‘strong & silky’ are words that have entwined me in my busyness this week since that shared prayer time with T. They have spoken tenderness and care into my heart… they have reminded me of words of a song which speaks of the depth of the love of God for us and my need for those moments of true listening wrapped in His presence.
I need to keep my heart’s eyes and ears open as I pray and serve and explore and wonder alongside my children, I need what they show me as they grow in faith, I need what they teach me as God speaks to them.
I will be finishing my talk tommorrow like this:
‘Think of Eli in the temple, his own sons gone their own way, looking after young Samuel and teaching him in the traditions and the faith. Sam woke him up – not just literally but also spiritually, reminding him of the reality of God – the expectation of God speaking to his people had long since left him but Sam was open and heard God’s voice in the night, he needed Eli to wake up and show him the way! Without Eli Sam had no context, no understanding to turn to, without Sam Eli was lost in tradition and disappointment, God brought them together and led not only them nearer to him but through them all his people.’
- what have you learnt afresh about God this week from your children?