"To follow Jesus?" I responded, not being able to resist an opportunity for sarcasm.
"Uh, no, God decided that for me, " he batted back, looking at me out of the corner of his eye. "No, I have decided the next thing I want to build with lego is..."
But he had already lost me. Insert slack jaw here.
"Wait, wait, wait. Forget lego, my young theologian," I said as I stirred the rice. "What did you just say about God?"
He smirked. Add that on top of a conversation we had been having about the neighborhood kids a few days earlier.
"You know they believe in Mother Nature?" he asked.
"Well, I would think they do, honey. What do you say when that comes up?"
"Well, I just figured that that is part of their worldview, and if I say something about what they believe, it might frustrate them. And I don't want to frustrate them," said the blessed peacemaker.
Insert another slack jaw here.
We continued the conversation with some facts about pearls to swine versus nudges from the Holy Spirit. It was amazing.
I was wondering where Jake had been picking up this wisdom. You know that glazed over look they can give you when you're trying to teach them? And you just sigh and wish they were listening? And then one day they say something you once heard yourself saying and you feel a rush of relief with the realization that maybe they were listening all along?
Backtrack with me into my kitchen last Friday night. The three middle kids had been watchingStar Wars--which I loathe for too many reasons to recount here. But they enjoy little green men who speak in inside out sentences and talking trash compactors and glow-in-the-dark amusement park toy sticks that are supposed to scare enemies. Whatever. The movie had ended, and they were getting ready to head up to bed when my 16 year old stopped them.
"Let's talk about what you just saw," Luke said. "What did the Jedi say? They said, 'Only the Sith believe in absolutes.'" Intrigued about where this would go, I stopped cleaning and just stood there, a silent, very interested bystander. The conversation continued. "Isn't it interesting that this movie characterizes the bad guys as having absolutes and the good guys as trusting feelings?"
Insert slack jaw here.
The three kids stood there looking intently at him, and you could almost hear the gears turning inside their heads. "Do we live our lives by absolutes or by feelings?" he challenged.
"Huh?" They were unsure about his vocabulary.
"Do we have a standard of right and wrong that is right and wrong no matter what?" he asked.
Ah. Understanding was dawning on their faces.
They all nodded, "Yeah."
"And where do we get that standard?" he asked.
A softball. "The Bible," they answered.
"Yep. And what do we do with our feelings?"
Their shoulders slumped a bit. "I don't know?" It was more of a question than a statement.
Luke's eyes bored into them. I had never seen him like this. I was as intrigued about what he was going to say next as they were.
"We don't make decisions based on them."
Yes! Yes! Yes! They were listening. They had all been listening the whole time. This show of wisdom by Luke was as encouraging to me as my previous conversations with Jake. Yes! He had been taking it all in the whole time. I was standing on the outside but doing high-kicks on the inside.
The short run in parenting can be littered with days I want to pull out my hair or throw in the towel. It's punctuated by bad attitudes, rebellious outbursts, exasperating parents, sloppy schoolwork, or spiritual malaise.
But I have decided that in the long run, if the parents are talking, the kids are listening.
I have decided that in the long run, I will get a return on my investment.
I have decided that in the long run, the Word of God will not return void.
Praise God, who gently leads those who are with young. He will carry them in His bosom.
And, in the long run, He will carry them across the finish line.