December 24, 2013

Little Children. Big God.

I used to be torn on the issue of real vs make believe. My four year old is just entering the age of asking really good (read: really HARD) questions and learning to make his faith his own. Do I teach him that Santa and Batman are make believe? Or am I just ruining the innocence of child's play? Am I making him grow up too fast?  Several months ago, I woke up to his cries from the other room.  Danny had had a nightmare.  As I crawled into his bed to snuggle with him, the conclusion that I came to at 6am that morning is that, in order to equip him to fight spiritual warfare from a very young age, he must understand what a truth is and what a lie is, and he must understand the difference between real super powers and pretend ones. 

For the first time, not only had he had a nightmare, nut he had the ability to recognize that that's what it was. As I crawled into his bed, I asked, ”Did you have a bad dream?” ”Yes,” he whimpered. When I asked him to tell me about it, that was too much. When I asked him specific yes and no questions, he confirmed that it was scary, that he was alone, and that he was hurt. And then the Holy Spirit took over and out of my mouth came the question: ”Do you think that dream was of Jesus or do you think that dream was of the enemy?” With zero hesitation, despite his half-awake state of mind, he said, ”The enemy.”

Here's the thing: I have never before taught him who our real enemy is. What dawned on me in that moment is that (especially to little boys) the idea of good guys and bad guys is totally innate. I used to think about (and fear the day) I'd have to explain that we have a real formidable enemy, and the thought of explaining that there is a really real, really bad guy out there did not sound appealing to me. I was not excited about instilling more fear in him. But in reality, I never had to explain that fact at all. He has known it with every fiber of his being. This is why Superman is such an easy hero to love. All I have to explain is which enemies are real and which are pretend. And I have to give him real weapons to fight with. Not guns or swords, but the real Sword of Truth (the very Word of God) and the Shield of Faith. [Ephesians 6:10-18]

I prayed with him and asked that he be filled with peace and courage and love. Then I started to teach him spiritual warfare:

“Did you know that you can tell the enemy to go away? You have the real power of Jesus inside of you and when you tell the enemy to go away, he has to obey you. He HAS to leave! Come on, let's tell him together.”

But no dice. I'd skipped the most important part. He wasn't ready to fight the enemy until he had gone to the feet of Jesus Himself. “Buddy, I can't make the enemy go away for you. He's in YOUR heart and YOU have to make him leave.” I may be able to kick him out temporarily, as the spiritual authority in my son’s life, but that provides no lasting victory, and does not equip him to fight his own battles.

So, as Ruach gently led me down the path of teaching this to my son for the first time, I tried again. My sweet boy repeated after me, willingly, as though he was verbally crawling into his heavenly Papa's lap:  “God come be in my heart. Give me peace so I won't be afraid anymore.” And THEN he could speak without fear or hesitation, from my physical arms and Abba's heavenly arms, “Enemy, go away. I command you to leave in Jesus name.”

I've never been so proud of him in the dark morning hours! The peace that filled him in the next moment was almost tangible. “Good job, little warrior! Good job!” I thought. With the knowledge of real Truth, he used real weapons to fight a real battle, and with the real supernatural strength of Yahweh, he won.

I know without a doubt that my conversation with Danny that morning was directly inspired by the conversations my sweet friend, Sarah, has had with her kids, and which she has chronicled in her new book Little Children. Big God. 

You don't want to miss this one, folks.  If you have kids.  Or if you have grandkids.  Or if you breathe air and live on planet earth, this book is for you.  So hurry up and go get it!  She will bless your life.