This post was inspired by a story told to us by the inspirational Bishop Stephen Cottrell. It reminded me of a parenting moment from long ago.
Our son was about 4 and woke up in the middle of the night, crying. I tried to pretend that I couldn’t hear him but Sally could sense I was awake and kicked me out of bed anyway. I stumbled into Thomas’s bedroom and asked him what was wrong.
“My foot hurts.”
I diagnosed cramp and tried to do the things I could remember my Mum doing for me when I was Thomas’s age and had cramp. I rubbed his foot, I stroked his head, I flexed his foot, I even put his Thomas the Tank Engine socks on him. None of it made any difference.
I am not at my best in the middle of the night. I was tired, I was unhappy at being awake and frustrated that nothing I was doing was making any difference and I could see a looong night looming ahead of me.
Frustratedly I asked, as gently as I could, “What do you want me to do?”
His little voice answered, “Why don’t you ask God to make it better?
Now I had two problems. Not only was I tired and unhappy but now as a dad and a Minister I had to work out how to explain to a four year-old that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way that we want. I am a man of great faith!
In the end, because my faith is so strong, I reasoned that I could pray first and that would give me time to work out what to say.
I prayed something like this: “Dear God, please make Thomas’s foot better and help him have a good night’s sleep. Amen.” (The real but unspoken prayer was, “I want to go back to bed.”)
The little voice from the bed said, “Amen.”
Then Thomas rolled over, snuggled down and went to sleep.
And I slunk back to bed having learnt a lot about prayer and faith.
A wise person once said, “Unless you receive the Kingdom of God like a child you will never enter it.”
Be blessed, be a blessing.