An essential ministry goal: true internalization of the Word…

November 20, 2008

I just started reading, “Hearts and Minds: Raising your children with a Christian view of the world” by Kenneth Boa and John Alan Turner. I think it’s going to be stellar.
In the introduction, the authors gave an example of a kid that excelled in Bible memorization but did so without understanding or internalizing what he memorized, and did so for all the wrong reasons: he wanted the spotlight. In contrast, they then shared this story:
“Here is the story of a little boy: Stuart and Kelly Hall’s son, Grant. Stuart shared this story with us so that we could share it with you. 
     It is a glorious day for any parent when their children reach the point where they can use the bathroom and not go in their pants. The earlier that happens, the better. That was our experience with all three of our kids. Stunning how such a necessity of everyday life can be celebrated like the Red Sox winning the World Series. Sobering how such an occasion can bring you to your knees.
     My wife, Kelley, began to notice blood on the toilet paper after my five-year-old son used the bathroom. A visit to the doctor calmed our fears a bit as our pediatrician assured us that Grant just suffered from a slight case of hemorrhoids. Not exactly the coolest thing for a kid in kindergarten to deal with.
     Only days after that visit, however, Grant stood up from the toilet and blood spilled on the floor. Needless to say, we freaked. We made an immediate appointment with a specialist. After examining Grant, the specialist sat us down and said there was a strong possibility of cancer. Kelley and I sat there in shock. Exploratory surgery was necessary as quickly as possible, and we sheduled it for the following week.
     I couldn’t sleep that nigth. I pored over the Scriptures, begging God to show me a promise that he would heal my little boy. I did not find that promise. As far as I can surmise, nowhere does God promise to heal us from sickness or disease. He tells us that he can, but he does not promise that he will. The verse that got my attention was Psalm 31:24. David says, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
     I wrote that verse in big letters on a piece of paper and put it by the coffee pot. Kelley and I made it a part of our conversation and prayers. I shared that verse with Grant and helped him to memorize it.
     Two days before his surgery, I picked him up early from school for his pre-op test. When we walked out of class, big tears were streaming down his face. For the first time since the whole ordeal began, he said, “Daddy, I’m scared.” I quickly referred to that verse. I wish you could have witnessed my brave little boy, trying to catch his breath, dry his tears, and repeat those words: “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.” Then again, I’m glad you weren’t there, or you would have seen me turn my back to him and begin to cry.
     We had to be at the hospital very early in the morning on the day of the surgery. The nurses gave Grant the equivalent of “children’s cocaine” to sedate him. He started hallucinating, seeing cows flying aroudn the room, talking incoherently about stuff only God could understand. As they rolled him away for the surgery, he smiled as his mom, grandparents, and I kissed him and told him that we loved him. When we reached that point in the hallway where we could go no further with him, his nurses said that we had to leave. As I leaned down to kiss Grant one more time, I wiped away a huge tear from his cheek and heard him mumbling something unintelligible.

I bent closer and finally understood what he was saying. Over and over, Grant was whispering, “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.””

   Beautiful, isn’t it? If you’re tearing up – you’re not the only one. I cried the first time I read it, and then Heather and I cried together when I read it to her later. This story exemplifies what we should be after in all our ministry – both in the church and in the home.

~ Donovan


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