The Encounter

Lord, I believe; help my unbelief  (Mark 9:24).

I flew out of bed at the sound of Brian’s chilling screams. My five-year-old had had his share of bad dreams, but this was different. The air in his room seemed charged with fear. “It’s okay, honey.” I sat on Brian’s bed and gently patted his hands. “It’s just a nightmare.  Mommy is right here.” 

Brian’s body remained tensed with terror. I flicked on the light. I kissed his cheek and carried him to the rocker. Brian was inconsolable.

It occurred to me that I should pray, in fact, I should pray aloud. In the same moment I had the opposite inclination. What if I prayed and God did nothing? After all, Brian was just learning about God. I needed to protect his young faith against the slings and arrows of outrageous life. Sometimes God’s “mysterious ways” made me doubt his providence altogether. “It’s okay, honey. Really.” I sighed and hushed in motherly tones: “Shh, it’s okay, baby.”

 Still Brian’s fear remained.

 “Sweetheart, let’s talk to God about this,” I said feebly. “Dear God,” I began.

Between the “Dear” and the “God” of my salutation, Brian’s little body went limp with peace. My prayer wasn’t powerful, memorable, or well-spoken—a lackluster string of words—but it didn’t matter. The moment, the meeting, belonged to my son and God. My prayer trailed off with a final “Amen.”

As I rocked my peaceful child, I realized I’d had a wake-up call. Not Brian’s terrified screams in the middle of the night, but a wake-up call concerning my own lack of faith. I had, after all, been afraid to pray out loud with my son. I’d had so little trust that God would come through. In addition, it seemed I was interpreting the struggles in my life as some sign of abandonment. When God’s answers weren’t what I’d hoped for, I felt He hadn’t answered at all.

Brian stretched, re-positioned himself in my arms, and laid his head back on my shoulder. I let the warmth of his body comfort me. I had so much to learn, so much growing to do. “Lord,” I silently prayed, “I believe; help my unbelief.” For good measure, I added. “And Lord, help it sooner rather than later, so that I can support this little one in his faith walk.” How amazing, I thought, that God had responded so quickly to my plea for help. It gave me chills, despite the warm little body snuggled up to me.

Brian interrupted my musings as he sat upright in my lap. His eyes wide with wonder, his little voice solemn with awe, Brian whispered, “Mommy, how did he get here so quick?”  

 

 © 2017 Sally Metzger