My 8 year old, Lexi, stayed home from school Thursday with a fever and cold. Apparently, her immune system didn’t get the memo that Mommy needed to be writing a 7 page paper for grad school, but that’s ok.
I took it in stride.
Took something in stride.
(For an explanation as to why that is so shocking, see my previous post.)
Any who, I used the day to clean the house a little (a very little), finish reading a book, and play Monopoly for 2 hours because Lexi is addicted to it.
As we got ready to go pick up the 6 year old from school, my daughter noticed her dad and me texting. She asked what we were talking about so, I shared that our friend is going to Ethiopia next month to work with some orphans over there our family has long prayed and hurt for. Lexi said she wanted to give our friend money to help fund her trip.
Lexi asked, “How much do you think I should give? $1?”
As we got into the car, I suggested we ask the Lord what He thought.
[Note: like all of you Christian parents out there, I have recently been lamenting that I fail way too often to teach my daughters how to have relationship with the Lord. They have plenty of head knowledge about Him, but I long for them to learn what it means to live with Him, day in and day out, far past rote bedtime prayers. And, like you, I’ve struggled not only to make the time to teach them to be relational with God, but I’ve also lacked the know-how, or so I thought. How do you teach a 6 and 8 year old (read: little people who aren’t great at thinking abstractly yet) to discern the voice of God, something most adults can’t do? Well, He was about to teach me how to teach them.]
My daughter whispered a prayer asking God how much He wanted her to give, and then I instructed her to listen. She said she didn’t hear anything, so I told her what I heard. I heard God say, “I love Lexi. I love her caring heart and that she wants to give. I would love it if she gave $1.”
Lexi responded, “I keep thinking of the numbers 9, 2, and 3, but I don’t have $923…”
I told her we should ask the Lord what He means with those numbers, and as we began to pray, my phone rang. It was my husband, so I put God on hold. (I was very polite about it and said, “Excuse me, Lord.” He understood completely. At least that’s what I’m telling myself…)
I told my husband what Lexi and I were doing, and he suggested God might mean $9.23. I told Lexi when I hung up, and she quickly dismissed the idea of giving her version of a small fortune. Since she was sure that’s not what God meant, I told her we should pray some more and ask Him to make it clear. She said she didn’t hear anything, so I told her what I thought I heard, “I want Lexi to give $9.23.” I reported this to Lexi, but she was still hesitant. She suggested $1 again, so we prayed and asked the Lord how He felt about $1. She didn’t sense anything, so I told her what I heard Him say, “No, I want her to give $9.23 exactly.”
I decided it was a good time to show Lexi how to determine if we are hearing from God, making things up ourselves, or hearing from Satan when we pray. To be clear, I don’t think we can corner the market on this exercise. We can and should have a rule of thumb, like anything we hear in prayer that goes against scripture is not from God. But I think, for the most part, we have to take things we think are from God with a grain of salt, unless something we sense He says is directly backed up by scripture.
In this case, there is no Bible verse that tells Lexi to give or not to give $9.23 to the Lord. So I told her about general giving verses and how the Bible teaches we are to take care of orphans (James 1:27), and we are to give with cheerful hearts (2 Corinthians 9:7), so God is definitely for her supporting our friend’s trip. I suggested to her the amount she gave was inconsequential; it was the spirit behind the giving that God cared most about…unless she felt very strongly that He told her to give an exact amount…then she’d better obey Him.
We decided we’d ask the Lord to confirm the amount He wanted her to give, and we’d keep our eyes and hearts open the rest of the day to see if He did. I told her not to be surprised if she started to see 923 different places. She got excited at the thought of it, and so did I.
I prayed silently all the way to our destination that God would visually confirm His will for her immediately. When we pulled into the parking lot and got in the car line to pick up her sister, we found ourselves behind this vehicle.
I asked Lexi to tell me what numbers were on the license plate. She didn’t understand at first, but then she realized the three numbers she thought God was showing her – 9, 2, and 3 – were right there on the plate.
I said, “Huh, there are your three numbers… but they’re not in the order we expected to see them, are they?” Her face lit up, “Do you think God is trying to tell me to give $3.29?” I said, “Maybe.” She texted her dad a picture of the license plate and her theory, and he agreed he thought she was right.
She smiled at me and said, “Good – that’s a lot less than $9.23!”
I smiled as I watched this little girl learn to hear from God while continuing to struggle with her humanity all at the same time.
She is not perfect. Her heart will always have selfish leanings. But they pale in comparison to the amazing goodness and obedience and delight in Him that God is growing in her heart. So I rejoiced.
And as I finish this post, God is reminding me that is exactly how He feels about me. I may be 32 years old, and I may have been a Christian for 16 years, but I am still His little girl, learning to hear from Him while continuing to struggle with my humanity all at the same time. I am not perfect. My heart will always have selfish leanings. But they pale in comparison to the amazing goodness and obedience and delight in Him that God is growing in my heart. So He rejoices.