It takes a midnight nightmare to let you know what verses you have on active file.
Trying to comfort a frightened four year old, yet still maintain that last vestige of sleep cover, I started reciting the songs and verses that came without thought. “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do. The mountains are his, the rivers are his; the stars are his handiwork too. My God is so big, so strong and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.”
“I will lie down and sleep in peace, Oh Lord, for you alone will keep me perfectly safe.” Psalm 4:8 passed my lips multiple times – a standard at our house when rocking children during midnight terrors. Apparently I need to learn more verses against fear.
He grabbed tight, pressing tear-stained cheeks close to mine, when I suggested going back to bed. “No!” So we snuggled closer and I whispered the songs that come without thinking, that spring forth. “God is so good, God is so good, God is so good, he’s so good to us. He gives good things, he gives good things, he gives good things, he’s so good to us.”
Eyes closed, half asleep, I kissed his cheek, crooning “Jesus Loves me” against sweaty hair that was already starting to cool, and lifted him to his bed. Pulling the blankets up to his chin, I whispered, “Jesus is so big and strong, Daniel. He loves you and takes care of you. Who told the wind and storm to stop that day in the boat? Whose friends said, 'Wow, even the wind and waves obey him!'? You can talk to Jesus anytime, Daniel.”
My son grabbed his blanket and new red Spiderman figurine close and started whispering. Tiptoeing out of the room, I was suddenly not certain who Daniel was praying to at that moment.
It went from learning about spiders to a Spiderman craze. One minute the little girl from nursery with chunky Spiderman rain boots was an anomaly to him, and the next minute he knew Spiderman’s name, asked for him at Target and hugged him fiercely throughout the day.
But at mealtimes, at wounds or sad moments and in joy, my little boy knows who to talk to. He begs to pray at each meal, and complains when it’s someone else’s turn. “Jesus, thank you that…” and his list goes long. At those times, Spiderman lays dormant in corners across the house. I don’t mind when later, he and Daniel run through the house, chasing imaginary bad guys, and escaping down the slide.
There is something in us that cries out for heroes, champions, warriors. In our world of human trafficking, poverty, injustice, hurt and dysfunction, we want to know that the bad guys will be caught, that justice will prevail, and little ones protected. And I love that our Judge, Warrior, and Hero wrangles compassion and second-, third-, fourth-chances, in a mind-boggling dance with justice. All are called to account, all are loved, all stand before their Judge.
I’m pondering Spiderman, superheroes, and champions tonight.
My dad hooked me on on a new tv series about police forces who negotiate and talk down armed intruders. Throwing themselves into danger, they sacrifice their lives and safety nightly.
I watch my preschooler race around the yard, fighting bad guys and speaking in warrior language, yet he cuddles close and tenderly kisses my face. “I save you, Mom. I save you,” he reassures me. “Me and Jesus fight bad guys.”
And Spiderman now too.
Because we all need reminders, I think, of the battles going on, and of our roles to stand tall, to come alongside, to offer radical love, to defend the cause of the fatherless and the widows, to point to our Creator’s lavished love and plan, and to his Son.
Who were some of your favorite heroes as a kid? What are ways that your children have spoken up about roles they see themselves playing in today's world?