One morning at the ranch, my 13-year-old, Eli, led devotions on the porch of our cabin. He had us read I Thessalonians 5:16-18 and then, based on a question from his teen devotional Bible, he asked us to list ways God had been good to us. I gave each boy a piece of paper and told them to write 10 things that showed how God had been good to them.
I participated, too. My list was made up of bullet points with things like •the gift of my children •the beauty of the mountains •my job, etc. I am truly grateful for every thing I listed, and I believe they are all ways that God has shown me He is good. But I didn’t spend a great deal of time thinking through my list.
My youngest son, on the other hand, thought long and hard as he created his list. There were no bullet points. No sentence fragments. He called me over to him a few times to ask for help, long after I had put my Bible and notebook back in the cabin. One particular sentence caught my breath. He had written, “That we get to see our mom and dad even when they are divorced.”
“Is that okay?” he asked.
“Sure,” I responded. “That is definitely one way God has shown you He is good. Some kids don’t get to see one of their parents when there is a divorce. But you know that both Dad and I love you so much and want to spend time with you. Even though divorce is not what God intended for us, and I’m pretty sure it’s not what any of us truly wanted, God is still showing His goodness through it by the way he cares and provides for you.”
Although I felt liked I stumbled through my explanation, he seemed to agree and went back to writing. Pretty soon he called to me, “Mom, do we have to pay for me to play soccer and baseball?”
I tell him yes and then I hear him say as he writes his next sentence. “That we have enough money for me to play soccer and baseball.”
When I walked over to him a few minutes later, I see how specific he has been in his list. He has mentioned his baseball games in detail, the two families from Tulsa, Oklahoma, that we met in Colorado three years ago and continue to vacation with each year at the ranch, his school and his friends…and then he says to me, “I saved the best one for last.”
“What’s that?” I asked, as I waited for him to write it on his paper.
“That I can be a Christian,” he said with a smile.
He gets it, this child of mine. He understands God’s goodness in every part of his life, even in the pain he has experienced (our divorce). But even more, he gets that being a Christian is not just some label we slap on ourselves. It’s not something he was born with or became just because that’s what his parents are. It’s something he got to choose. And he has chosen it. The evidence of Christ in his life is apparent in the way he loves other and the way he reflects the kindness and grace of Christ. This boy of mine is a constant encouragement to me.
After he finished, we walked back into the cabin together. He tucked his paper inside his Bible, puts it on the table and ran back outside to join his brothers. I grabbed my notebook and opened it up to my list. I added number 11: “I know that God is good to me because I get to witness how He is working in Jaden’s life.”