“I’m shy.” Indeed, the little girl was, and these were the only words that Iva could muster when I asked her to pray before we left for her school one day.
Who could blame her? I had just punished Iva for not putting on her clothes immediately, when we were already running late again and I needed the kids to be snappy-obedient. When we didn’t make the time, I rubbed it in even more by telling her that it was all because of her dillydallying, though not entirely true, and worse, at a volume that sounded like she was 20 meters away when she was merely inches from me.
The scene seemed to momentarily freeze for me, as it awaited my next action. I may have had my point, but why did I have to make that wound her and pierce her that much? Thanks to that sudden snap, I had turned my correction into a lesion earned, instead of a lesson learned.
Iva’s short words and her spirits laid low as her little head was more than enough to douse cold water at my fumes and see the mess that I had done.
Suddenly, I was shy myself too – for my immature outburst, for my piercing words, for my lack of patience, for my unforgiving, loveless father’s heart. And, it is in situations like these that a voice will tell us: “Pray? After what you have done, how dare you pray with the kids, Daddy Lash Out? How dare you even think of still showing your face to your God?” As I am equally at fault as Iva is, should I also shy away from prayer out of guilt and shame?
What a blessing to know that there is always also a voice that echoes the righteousness of God, and it doesn’t drown out no matter how loud the other tries to be!
“Okay, Iva, I will pray first and then you pray.”
Remember that the voice that seeks to isolate us from God’s presence is the voice of a liar – the enemy – and that is his foremost strategy. Come to think of it, if everyone believed the lie of guilt, then nobody would be praying any longer because no one can ever face up to God with our sins. Still, the enemy wants us to buy into it – to cower and walk away in shame – when what God always wants is a call for relationship restoration fueled by humility and meekness. “A broken and a contrite heart, o God, You will not despise,” (Psalm 51:17) is how the Bible lovingly puts it.
“Lord, I’m sorry for shouting at Iva. Please take care of her as she goes to school,” I prayed, and then I completed my owning up to my sin with my apology for my little one: “Iva, I’m sorry for shouting at you. Please obey quickly next time, especially when we’re in a hurry.”
As she has agreed to pray after I did, she said hers: “Lord Jesus, I am so sorry too for not obeying Daddy.”
I can only hope and pray that I have saved a thing or two in that situation, as I can never get back my hurtful actions. But the gloomy air dissipated after that, and we started our walk to Iva’s school smiling, singing at times, and holding hands.
Late again but happy again, and that’s what matters.
“But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” – Philippians 3:13