So we’re having House church today since Hubby is gone this weekend. Yes, House as in our last name and house as in our home. Clever, huh?
I gathered the boys around the crackling fire I made in our old fireplace, and we sang kumbayah. Then we lifted our hands in worship as the two oldest strummed their guitars to “Amazing Grace.” We opened our Bibles and read aloud, followed by …. Okay, let’s get real. This is a house full of sugared-up boys. Besides, our fireplace is bricked closed.
This is the real story:
I am sitting in front of Eli’s dresser, gathering clothes to put in the suitcase for our upcoming trip. I notice all four boys are within 10 feet of me. I yell, “House Church!” And one of them says, “Oh yeah, it’s Sunday.”
My oldest heads for his bed nearby, “Good, I can take a nap since we’re in my room. Napping is my church, today.” He lays down for 2.3 seconds and then grabs a nerf guns, loads the nerf bullets and starts shooting.
The second oldest pings and pongs from a chair to the floor then to his bed, across the room from his brother. I start to get frustrated. Noticing all of this energy and distraction, I tell them we’re going to do things differently. Instead of one of us leading church, we’re going to grab our Bibles and read for 10 minutes. I tell them to find their favorite verse or chapter and read it in silence. Then they are to come tell me why they like that verse and how they can apply it to their lives. Easy enough.
What? Am I crazy? Ten minutes of silence when their breakfast consisted of any or all of of the following (unbeknownst to me at the time): Peanut Butter Crunch, orange juice, leftover cookie cake with loads of frosting, and grape soda? I’m pretty sure no one got into the ice cream that early but I may be wrong since I did sleep an longer than they did. I know, I know, no Mom-of-the-Year awards for me. But hey, they’re alive and happy. And hyper.
So, they grab their Bibles and read for well, I’d say, maybe 3 minutes tops. I tell them to read longer. “Read the verses before and after the verse you like,” I say. The youngest, 6, heeds my advice and goes back downstairs where he has his Bible in our bedroom and brings it back upstairs to read more. By this time the other three are engaged in an all-out Nerf gun war and I’m quickly losing, even though I am not playing.
I rally them again and try the ol’ shaming-without-too-much-damage tactic. “I would like to note that the 6-year-old is showing the most maturity here.”
The others start whining things like,
“I’m paying attention. It just doesn’t look like it.”
… and my favorite
“What do you expect when I’ve had two glasses of grape soda with 28 grams of sugar each?” (That’s when I asked what everyone had fixed themselves for breakfast.)
I continued to plow through, silently praying that I would be patient. Actually, it was more like pleading that we would all make it through the day alive, with vocal chords intact and heads on top of our bodies.
Funny, our God is. (I think I just channeled Yoda there). When I asked them to tell us all what they had read, my firstborn said he loves the verse that says, “Do not become weary in doing good.” I was becoming weary and I told them so. My third son was now laughing obnoxiously at everything the oldest was doing, and on occasion would yell out something completely random, like when he found a penny on the floor and exclaimed, “This coin was made in 1997!”
I took a deep breath. And we made it through the retelling of Elijah, the prophet, being taken to heaven and how my son Elijah loves that because it’s his name and he likes seeing his name in the Bible. I was too weary to ask how he was going to apply that to his life. And maybe a tad bit frightened to hear the answer.
The youngest had read about John and Jesus.
“You mean when John baptized Jesus?” I asked.
“No,” he replied. “I read when the man (John’s father, Zechariah) couldn’t speak before John was born.” I was hoping God would do that silencing trick again – here with my boys, in this utterly, disastrous house church moment. How heavenly, I daydreamed — until I heard the screeching microphone from the karaoke machine.
One death look from me and the guilty party switched the machine off, and then told us what he had read. “I read the Ten Commandments,” he shared, “but I like the first one the best.” A short lecture, from me of course, followed. “We take our Bibles for granted and this knowledge that the ‘Lord is our God.’ We have access to all of this information but it doesn’t matter if we don’t act on it.” I’m pretty sure I sounded like Charlie Brown’s grandma, as her voice comes through the telephone: wha whah whah wha.
Time to switch tactics. “Before we pray,” I tell them, “I want to let you in on something important that I’ve never shared with you before.” That got their attention. A secret! .”I want to tell you a little about this retreat dad is on this weekend and why it’s important.” (If you’re interested in hearing the reasons, see my other website on reconciliation at www. reconciling.wordpress.com … but give me a few minutes as I have not finished it yet.)
The secret didn’t seem to be as exciting as they had hoped but I soldiered on. When I explained that Dad would be spending the weekend working on man stuff and issues that stemmed from his relationship with his own father, I realized I didn’t really KNOW what he was doing so I couldn’t exactly explain it very well. I summed it up by saying he was there to heal some emotional wounds. I looked over at Eli and saw him tearing up. He told me that sometimes at night he prays for his dad’s MS to go away so he can run with them again. And then his voice drifted off, and he changed the subject for fear he might break down right then and there. I rubbed his leg gently as he had now moved to sit next to me.
As we closed our time together, I asked each of the boys to pray for their dad. One by one, they prayed for healing of his body from multiple sclerosis, and for a great weekend at his retreat where he can get healing for his heart that has been hurt over the years (okay my oldest was the one who voiced that profound prayer). One by one, they prayed that he would play with them in Florida. And one of them asked God to heal him completely but then said, “but that probably won’t happen,” which made me sad that we expect so little from God. I reminded him that God would hear his prayer and we can approach His throne boldly, asking for anything.
Whether or not they really “got anything” from house church today is to be determined. But I know I did. I learned that church and sugar aren’t a good mix. I learned that even in the midst of hyperactive outbursts, if I keep my cool, I may get a glimpse of my boys’ hearts. I learned about their realities of living with a disabled father and, most importantly, I heard that they long for more.
Isn’t that what church is all about anyway? Longing for more? Seeing where we are lacking and then yearning, praying and hoping that God will come into those places and fill us up? As much as I want to provide for their comfort and desires, I hope they will always keep searching for God and reaching for Him, when they are playing Nerf wars or when they’re lying in their beds at night. But especially when they walk into the buildings we call churches…. because I would rather have sugar-high, hyper children in search of God than sterile, lifeless men who are resigned to walk into a place merely out of habit.