I turned off the lamp and knelt down by DeCelie’s bed. Lifting the covers up and over her shoulders, I tucked her in and rubbed her back...tracing slow circles over her little four year old frame.
“Can you read me a Bible story?” she asked.
“I can tell you one,” I offered and she agreed that would do.
I had been reading in John chapter three that week, so I told her about the man named Nicodemus and how he came to Jesus with questions. This led to several questions of her own. So I left the book of John and started from the very beginning of the New Testament.
She got out of the bed and grabbed her nativity scene and pointed to the little baby in the manger, “That’s when He was born.”
“Yes,” I smiled agreeing and went on to share how He grew up. “He lived a pure life. He always showed love.” I said before adding, “But we don’t always show love. We can be mean and disobey.”
“Not me,” she protested.
I paused, surprised by her quick defense, “Uh...oh yes, DeCelie...you too. And Mommy too! We all have not loved as we should.”
“No, not me” she protested.
I lifted an eyebrow and smirked, “DeCelie you lied to me today. You disobeyed and you didn’t share with sister.”
She smirked back, as though impressed with my rebuttal, “Well...not anymore.”
I exhaled with empathy, “Sometimes we are unloving. But God knows...that is why He sent His Son - so He could cover all those unloving things with His great love…”
We talked about how Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins. I could tell she was tracking with me. She even shifted her position so she could listen with her whole body. She preferred these stories to me rubbing her back?
“Did He hurt?”
“Yes He did.”
“Did He bleed?”
“Yes He did. He did it all for us...to save us.” She shifted her gaze in thought...she seemed sad. I tapped her side - gaining her full attention again, “But ya wanna know the good news?”
She looked up at me, eyes eager.
“He didn't stay dead...Now He’s alive!”
“How?” she asked, more upbeat now.
“The power of God.”
“The power inside Him?”
"Yes...yes!" I nodded.
"Where did He get the power?"
I paused, noting her thoughtful question, before answering, "...From his Father."
"Where did He get it?"
"Well, He always had it."
“No..." she said shaking her head. "Someone had to give it to Him,” she giggled and almost rolled her eyes; so tickled with certainty.
"Well, He is all powerful. No one gave it to Him. But He can give it to us. Now, since Jesus rose again, those who believe in Him can receive His power to live a new life...a life that loves and serves and gives."
She paused thinking. I thought about it too. This truth was big...no one could ever fully comprehend its endless measure. He is all powerful. And He, in all His power would now live in us?...to powerfully lead us in a new life for His kingdom? This mystery...the hope of glory. I didn't expect her to understand yet.
“Okay, honey, now let me rub your back.” It was way past her bedtime now.
“Can you sing me a song?” she asked and I nodded. “Then can you bring the real music in and let me listen to it?”
I grinned, half offended and half amused, “the real music” oh brother. Yes, I’d bring the radio in and yes, first I'd sing a song. I closed my eyes to remember the lines...“Jesus reproached for our disgrace/ no sin He choose/ tempted the same...” Before I could reach the chorus, she lifted her head and interrupted with a question that took my breath away…
“Can you pray for Jesus’ power?”
My eyes popped open. “Yes. Yes, you can...would you like to pray?”
“No, I want you to pray.”
“Okay.” I nodded. “Heavenly Father...I pray…” Attempting to take in the full significance of the moment, I knelt there in the quiet re-living her question over and over again, can you pray for Jesus’ power? I thanked Him in the silence.
Noticing, she spoke up, “Why did you stop?”
“I’m...I’m thinking...” I said blinking back tear-filled eyes.
“You need to keep going,” she urged.
“Okay,” I agreed giggling, “Heavenly Father, thank You for sending Your Son....for powerfully raising from the dead.”
“Into your heart,” she inserted. And now it became clear to me that indeed she had a very specific prayer in mind. I struggled to remember when I had introduced her to the idea of Jesus coming into a heart before recalling her question when she was younger. She asked where Jesus lived and I told her that He lives in His new body in heaven and He lives in our hearts, through His Spirit, when we believe.
“Lord, I pray that…” I continued.
“Into your heart!” she inserted again.
"Honey..." I smiled, "Do you want to pray?"
She dug her face down into half her pillow, smiling shy. So I continued.
“....Will You give us the power of Your Spirit? Come and powerfully live in our hearts, God.”
“And in Charis…” she added.
“And in Charis,” I repeated, peeking to see her eyes tightly pursed in prayer.
“And in brother…”
“And in brother,”
“And me, Lord”
“Yes, Lord...and DeCelie” I said with a joy so burning deep I could taste it. Salty tears.
“And Uh-Celie” she repeated with finality.
"Thank You Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen."
I kissed her forehead and struggled off my knees to leave. But how do you leave a sacred place like that? Wiping my tears, I somehow managed and tip-toed out the door to fetch the radio as promised. Just as I stepped into the light of the hallway, I heard her begin another prayer...this time, all by herself. I paused and hid myself beside the door - holy-eavesdropping:
“Dear Jesus...gank you for power in my heart for helping and sharing and loving. We love you...”
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