Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bedtime Stories

I think there should be something special about bedtime for children. Between the busyness of the day and the restfulness of night, I think God gives parents an intimate window of time to spend with their children. I have sweet memories of my parents talking and praying with me right before I went to sleep, and I find that my own kids are more willing to talk with me at that time, and more inspired by the stories I tell.

But so often, after a long day of homeschooling, housekeeping, nose wiping, diaper-changing, errand running, etc. etc., we get to bedtime and I am DONE. Especially on nights when my husband is gone, I am tempted to open the bedroom door and toss them into their beds with a quick: "Goodnight, I love you...AND DON'T COME OUT UNTIL MORNING!!"

I know I sound like a terrible mother, but truly our bedtime routine seems to last all night. By the time we get through the bath, the teeth brushing, the drinks of water, and the wrestling of jammies onto wiggly kids... then story routine starts. There's the story from a book, the story from when Mommy or Daddy was little, the Bible story.... I begin to think I will never get out of there!

Henry Blackaby says that the God of the universe not only speaks to His children through the Bible and prayer, but also in special ways that are unique to each of us, because His relationship to each of us is special and intimate. Blackaby encourages his readers to look for the the unique ways that God communicates with them.

I was thinking about that the other night as bedtime rolled around. It had been one of those days. And when I say it had been one of those days, I mean It had been one of those days. Phil was gone on this particular night, I wasn't feeling well, and was rather close to dissolving into a pathetic puddle of tears and self-pity. "But you have to tell us the Bible story!" my kids were insisting.

I used to put a lot of effort and drama into the Bible stories I told, making sure to tell them something I had just read about so that my enthusiasm, which they so easily catch, would be fresh. But on this night, like many others recently, I was trying to think of the shortest story I could come up with.

I began telling the story of the small lunch feeding a great crowd, and God in His great love for me, did something that has happened to me on many story-telling occasions. As I got about halfway into it, I listened to the words I was saying and realized they were for me. The story I have read and heard a thousand times spoke to me in a new way and encouraged me right where I was at on that night.

It was not the first time this has happened. Many times, I look at old Bible stories in a new light, or find encouragement or conviction from them as I'm telling them. And it's not usually until I start the story that this happens.

As I think back to Blackaby's words, I realize that God uniquely speaks to me when I am sharing His word with my kids. This is especially encouraging to me, because as a busy mom whose children have secretly negotiated to sleep on completely different schedules, I get very little time to myself. Usually when I am reading my Bible, someone is sitting right next to me scribbling in it (or on the wall). Fortunately, God is not limited by that. He has given me a full-time job, but is able to come and speak to me right when I am in the middle of it.

When you think about it, it's pretty strange that God chooses to speak to me while my mouth is moving, but then, I suppose that is part of the mystery of Philemon 1:6:
"I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ."

And if my kids get something out of it too, all the better. Meanwhile, I'm working on shortening that bedtime routine!


naimo family said...

thanks for sharing. this is very, very touching. and frankly, rather convicting. especially since tonight anthony will be gone and i feel much the same way as you... just chuck 'em in their room and see them in the morning!

JJ said...

Ang - I hear you. I am also convicted because I don't tell Bible stories as often as I should. I know that God would minister to my heart as I minister to my kids.

Isn't amazing that His strength and blessings really do RENEW EACH MORNING... along with that cup of coffee???