Last night I was writing in my journal, and I closed with this short prayer: Help me to listen to your Spirit tomorrow in scheduling my day. Be the Lord of my life. Give me Your priorities. Please speak to me and help me to obey in love. Help me to have self-control.
This morning in my quiet time I was reading a book called A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul and His Prayers, by D.A. Carson It is a great book. I am trying to read through it slowly, and also study the prayers in my Bible that he writes about. The prayer this morning was from 2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.” I wrote this out and then added the simple prayer, “Lord, please work these things in me and in my family this day.”
My point here is not to draw attention to myself. Those were short, though sincere prayers. I didn’t spend hours on my knees imploring God to do a work today. But God never-the-less heard my prayers and has blown me away with His response.
The children and I were working around the house this morning when I heard screaming from the boys’ room. I went in to find Matthew beating up his brother for “no reason”. The first answer to prayer was right here, because I was able to have self-control. When one child is hurting another I am so tempted to act like a mama bear.
Matthew and I went to my room to talk and try to get at the heart of things. My question for him was, “Do you love your brother?” He told me he did. I read from 1 John and we talked about loving not in word only but in deed and in truth. I asked him to tell me ways that he tries to show his brother he loves him and he thought of a couple of things, but then thought of some reasons why those actions aren’t really motivated by love. So my next question was, “Why don’t you love your brother?” At first he denied that, but after a while he started opening up and confessing his sin. And he kept talking for three hours (out went my schedule for the day-another answer to prayer), and I wrote down everything he said. At one point he said, “I’m confessing all my sin to mommy that she needs to know about so she can write it down.” I asked him questions and he gave very specific, thoughtful answers. He just opened up and a flood came out.
We’ve been praying that he would give us his heart. He has been so angry almost all of the time, and we’ve been so confused. He’d even be angry if it was time to eat, and he loves food so we just didn’t get it. His anger was not because we were yelling at him or putting him down. He’d also be mean or rude to Christopher almost everyday, unprovoked, and we didn’t know why. It seemed bizarre to us because we didn’t know what was going on in his heart. Anyway, the past few days he’s been really affectionate with me, and today: this. It sure seems like the hand of God to me.
We’ve still got a lot of ground to cover with him, but now we have a greater understanding of his heart, and the temptations he is facing and how to address those. Always before his actions seemed like random acts of rudeness. Now we can see the interconnectedness and the whys. I am so thankful for God’s faithfulness to work in hearts and give wisdom liberally without reproach.
All of that said, we are all sinners [in need of a Savior and so thankful that Jesus died in our place] in our family! Matthew is not alone in that category. So many times I have to say to Matthew, “We need to have self-control right now.” So many times I have blown it and had to confess my sin to him, and we have cried and prayed together. I know God uses that too. So I just want you to know I am not picking on Matthew. At care group a few weeks ago Matthew asked for prayer from our group because of his anger. Please pray for him that he would grow in love for others (you can pray that for the rest of us too).