This past Saturday, as is the case on many Saturdays, my children were home. We spent the morning shopping for winter clothes and shoes, while the afternoon was spent at a park and then the lake. My children had a grand time, and so did I. But as the afternoon wore on, I began to get a headache.
I get headaches more often than I’d like, in part because of my current glasses, and they are unlike headaches of my youth. They’re simple sinus pressure headaches, not migraines – thank God – but they’re still quite painful. If I catch a headache early enough, a couple ibuprofen tablets and a good night’s sleep work like a charm. But a particularly bad headache might last for days. So in short, my headaches don’t just go away on their own. Knowing this, I was expecting to have a headache all evening.
My children and I got back from the lake just in time to snarf down some supper and head to the Saturday evening church service. I took a couple ibuprofen tablets shortly before leaving, knowing the medicine wouldn’t likely have much effect until I went to bed. But I was hoping that it might at least keep the headache from getting worse during worship, when it could very easily be a huge distraction. Once in the car and on our way, the headache began to get worse, so I asked my children if they would be somewhat quiet. My children, who are so good, complied without argument or questions. But better still, they asked if they could pray for me. While I don’t get many opportunities to do so – and I probably miss many opportunities as well – I take every chance I get to teach my children how to pray. So I replied, “Yes, please.” I was looking at this as a teaching moment, but I had no idea how memorable a moment it would be.
My son, who has prayed for classmates at church before, prayed first. He usually does not, but this time he prayed the typical Christian prayer. It went something like this: “Jesus, we love you. Please make my dad’s headache go away.” My daughter immediately followed with a bold command: “Headache, in the name of Jesus, go away!” And immediately, the left side of my head felt almost like water drained out of it, and the headache on that side of my head was completely gone. For a few seconds, I said nothing, thinking this was my imagination. When I realized it wasn’t, I told my daughter, “The headache on the left side is completely gone!” My daughter responded with an excited “Yay!” from the back seat. “Can you pray more?” I asked her. So she prayed again. This time there was no draining feeling, but the headache on the right side subsided noticeably. Stubborn as I am, I still wasn’t sure what was going on, and I feared failure, so I didn’t ask my children to pray any more. But they were still excited by the time we got to church a few minutes later. And before the worship service was complete, the headache was completely gone.
While Christ is with us always, and while we have his Spirit living inside us, I believe there are times when God draws closer to us than others. As I get older and more mature in Christ, I’m learning to identify those moments. I’m certain that I still miss far too many opportunities to hear from the Spirit, to speak into someone’s life, to be a part of something amazing. But it’s by the grace of God that I’ve recognized several of those moments while my children were with me. I pray for my children all the time. I pray that our Lord would send them his Spirit and that they would be used in his Kingdom. And I know that they will be. For it’s on days like last Saturday that God not only draws close to teach them a lesson, he’s teaching me one too.