"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."
I just had to sit down and get this story out today before it gets lost somewhere in all the data floating around in my mind. The older I get, the more I will come across pieces of a good thought in my head knowing that somewhere were the details that went with it that I just cannot recall in clarity. So, hot off the presses of my mind is a rather short but sweet and insightful nighttime conversation between mom and teenage daughter:
Mom: "So, do you have any prayer requests?"
Daughter: "For a good night's sleep."
Mom: "Yes, I know. Let's pray for someone. Is there anyone who has a special need that you know of?"
(Daughter all wrapped up in her bedding lifts her head off the pillow trying to bring someone to mind while Mom childishly interrupts.)
Mom: "Me! Let's pray for me!"
Daughter: "Ok, what?"
Mom: "I have scheppers." (Not sure that's in the dictionary...ask Jennifer Huff Konieczka, or continue reading for explanation.) "I've been feeling kind of tired and useless and a little down, you know? I kind of feel like God has sat me on the bench. I'm just watching the game be played, unable to contribute."
Daughter: "Well, maybe it's so that you can catch your breath."
Mom: "Maybe, but I'm kinda tired of the bench."
Daughter: "Well, then maybe you should get in the game."
Mom: "Ok...let's pray."
(Mom prays and prays and prays, as always! Boy, that mom can pray! Daughter begins to softly chuckle at what she has learned to be through the years the closing of the prayer, not necessarily due to recitation, word choices, or voice fluctuation. She just knows that surely mom must be about done by now!)
Mom: "In Jesus' Name, amen."
(Daughter looks up at mom softly laughing.)
Daughter: "When you were praying I pictured you on the basketball court," (Her sport of choice.), "all suited out with little sweatbands around your head and wrists."
Mom: "What were my colors?"
Daughter: "Green and white." (Not daughter's own school colors, mind you.)
Mom: "I love you."
Daughter: "I love you, too."
(They hug, and daughter avoids a kiss; however, mom still moves in, and daughter wipes it off. Mom reminds daughter that she heard on a morning radio program that kisses are the best stress relievers and informs daughter that she better be kissing her even when she's old and gray. Then, comes a sweet, gentle, holy, good night kiss.)
Oh, how I love those nightly conversations, even though just moments before, my goal was to get in my own bed without delay. I have heard it said by the wonderful, Jesus-loving, Living Word immersed Beth Moore, and others, that the best gift we can give our children is our own walk with Christ. I agree, and I am learning to be disciplined, devoted, and passionate about my relationship with God before my children while also striving to be authentic. I must praise Him when I weary; I thank Him when I am wondering; I own my mistakes and ask forgiveness when I am rebellious and at fault; I sing and celebrate His goodness everyday, in joy and in sorrow. I ask them their prayer needs, and I share with them mine. Individually and together, we go before His precious and glorious throne of grace.
So often, He touches me through the insights of my children. My daughter's vision was one of me in the game, dawning the green and the white. As I have learned in part, green is the color that represents life and growth; white represents cleansing, purity, and hope. So, maybe that's what this bench thing is all about. My Lord knows where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. Quite possibly, He has chosen to sit me out to grow me, to purify me, and to renew my hope in Him as I catch my breath, His breath through the hands on coaching of His Holy Spirit in me. Maybe someday I'll be back in the game from my standpoint, or maybe I just need to find contentment on the bench and support those out on the court through prayer, giving and much more. Most certainly, I need to look around on my bench and see who's sitting next to me, so that the life and hope of Jesus Christ will be poured out in love, compassion, and encouragement through me. Even when we feel like we are on the bench, in Christ, we are in the game!