We read a chapter of Bill Hybels book, "Honest to God" at cell group this past Thursday evening. He suggested journaling with God in order to jump start and revitalize your quiet times. His suggestion was to start it with the word, "Yesterday..." but knowing that I won't be sitting down to write very often in the morning, I decided to start mine, "Today..." I also decided to do it as a blog instead of in a paper and pen journal. That way I can't lose it so easily. :)
So I begin. Today...
Today... a curly blonde head lay across my chest and my arms went around a warm little body that shuddered with sobs. "I do-o-o-on't wa-a-a-ant to go-o-o-o...to ca-a-amp" Mikey's plaintive little voice was pathetic for a big brother who at times wickedly delights in tormenting the younger fellows in the family. He's growing up so fast - in a matter of weeks now he will "hit the double digits" when he turns 10, but sometimes the small, scared, and vulnerable little boy in him still reigns supreme. He's a "planner", something he definitely did not get from his maternal grandparents. He has a gift for looking ahead and making sure everything is in place for future events that involve him. But it's not always possible to plan ahead. There are lots of things that remain out of his control. Like who your counsellor is going to be and who will be the kids in your cabin. Those kinds of things challenge his need to get all the ducks in a row. When he can't plan it all ahead, it turns instead into anxiety.
I was lying on the couch and I drew him as close to me as I could. I spoke comforting words, giving him all the pat answers. "You'll be glad you went when the week is over." and "Remember all the fun you had last year?" and "You can always run to Uncle Mike or Auntie Em if you need a hug." He had an answer for everything and nothing I could say was helping at all. I ran my finger gently around and around the palm of his hand, something that always calmed him as a baby and still works very well. His sobs subsided and gradually transformed into shallow breathing, but I could tell that his anxiety levels were still off the scale. Every few breaths he would let out a little groan as though he were experiencing some deep pain.
My heart is so full. I want to tell him, "Okay, you don't have to go!" but it's not my call. I quit with the pat answers and start wracking my brain for something that might work, but nothing comes. I find my heart beginning to connect with the Holy Spirit and I begin praying for Mikey with groaning of my own that is too deep for words. Eventually, the words come...
"Oh, Mikey," I start. "Most of the time you forget all about Jesus. You think about him when you're at Sunday School, or if Mommy reads you a Bible story, or during devotions at camp, but most of the time you forget he's there. But he wants to be a part of your life. He wants to help you through all this stuff. He cares about you you so much more than anyone else does. He cares so much about what you're going through, and he understands better than anyone. He loves you more than I do..."
I ask him if he wants me to pray for him and his head moves up and down almost imperceptively. I take that as a yes. "Lord Jesus, you love Mikey so much. Please help him through this. Please let him know you are here. Help him to calm down and to feel your peace in his heart. Let him know that he can depend on you, that you will help him through this..."
We lay there quietly for a while, without another word of conversation. Within a couple of minutes, Mikey is asleep. I extricate myself from his embrace and head for the kitchen. Not ten minutes later, Matthew bursts into the house announcing that Mikey needs to come right home. It's time to leave for camp! Matthew is also going to the Salvation Army Band Camp for the next week, along with their cousin Eliana, but there is not a sign of anxiety in his brightly shining eyes and his body moves with the anticipation and excitement that is coursing through him.
I shush Matthew and make a quick call to their Mom. I explain that Mikey is asleep and suggest they head off for Jackson's Point right away. I will drive Mikey over in a couple of hours after he's had a good sleep. Since his anxiety over camp had ensured a very short night for Mikey the night before, Mom agreed that would be a good idea.
A couple of hours later, I gently woke Mikey and told him it was time to leave. He jumped up and we headed out. We went through the drive-thru at the Bradford McDonald's to pick up some lunch to eat on the way.
Mikey was munching away on his Chicken Snack Wraps in the back seat. He was obviously in a much better frame of mind than he had been before his nap. "How long until we get to camp?" he asked. I told him that I didn't think it would be much more than half an hour.
A little further on he piped up again. "I'm not nervous anymore," he mused. "I wonder why?"
I reminded him that I had prayed for him. "God was ready to answer my prayer for you even before the words come out of my mouth!"
Mikey sat quietly contemplating for a few minutes. I wasn't sure if my words had gone in one ear and out the other, or if they had stayed in there long enough to have some effect. The next thing he said was this: "Well, I can't wait to get to camp now. I just can't wait... How long now, Mommy'sMum?"
And I knew the message had hit home and was already bearing fruit.
Thank you God! What a privilege to have been granted a place of influence in a little boy's heart. May I never take it for granted!