This week our Bible study helped host (on behalf of our church) two mission families who are on furlough. It was a lovely evening with wonderful stories, pictures, worship, and fellowship. It was wonderful to see clear evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in their lives and in our church body.
Earlier in the day, I posed a question to our two oldest girls: Would you like to stay home with Dad tonight and watch a movie or would you like to go with me to listen to the missionaries? Ruthie quickly replied that she wanted to stay home. I wasn’t surprised. She’s a bit if a homebody at times. Emma on the other hand, waffled. She was struggling to choose. I let her think on it for over an hour and then asked her again. She was still struggling. I had predetermined that though I was certain the Lord wanted her to go–she has such a love for missions–I wasn’t going to force her. It was time to start letting her work this out with the Lord. I sent her to her room with these instructions: Go upstairs, close your door, ask God what He wants you to do tonight, and wait for Him to tell you. So she did.
About 30 minutes later, she resurfaced and told me she was going to stay home. I said okay and started getting ready. Since we were helping host the event, we had all agreed to meet at the church early to prepare and pray. Fifteen minutes before I had to leave, Emma came to me and said she had changed her mind and wanted to go. Gently I had to explain to her that she no longer had the option of going. She had not eaten dinner, taken a shower, changed her clothes or finished her evening chores–all of which were to be completed before either attending the missionary service or watching a movie with Dad. She started to cry. I prayed with her and tried to soothe her, but she was very angry and hurt. For the first time in her life, she directed her anger verbally at me, “I can’t believe you aren’t going to let me go to something about missions! This is about God!” Wisely, my husband encouraged me to go ahead and leave, promising to talk with her and help her manage her anger.
I felt heavy as we were preparing, my body was at the church, but my mind and heart were at home. Silently I prayed for Emma, wondering if I should call, knowing it would be after her bedtime when I returned. It was my first taste of open, honest, angry rebellion from one of my children and it stung. I was beginning to get a glimpse of how painful it must be for God when we hurl epithets and insults at Him, questioning His authority and sovereignty and love.
A few minutes before the program began, Emma appeared at my side. Her first words were, “Mommy, I’m sorry.” I dropped down and hugged her telling her that I forgave her and was so happy to see her. She explained that her father and sisters had all worked together to get her to the church on time. We sat together through the program and then enjoyed eating some cookies afterwards. It was a really special evening for both of us.
In the car on the way home, I asked her about her time of prayer earlier in the day. I asked, “When you were praying, what did you say?” She replied, “I asked God what He wanted me to do tonight.” “And, what did He say?” I asked. “Mom, you know He doesnt’ really talk in a voice. But, my Holy Spirit told me that I should go ‘cuz I can watch a movie any time, but I can only hear the missionaries tonight.”
Evidence. Of spiritual fruit. Of a little life being transformed. Of temptation and victory. Of the effectiveness of prayer. That our labors of love through Christ are yielding an abundant crop. It was good. So, so good. It was God. So, so God.
Thank You, Father for clear evidence, proof that You are and have always been working in Emma’s heart. Thank You for drawing her to You in ways that speak to her and reassure her that You are true and right and the way to everlasting life. Thank You for reminding me that I need to continue this labor with her sisters and brother. Help me. Guide me. Teach me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.