Recently, my 8-year-old daughter and I planned a special afternoon trip to a popular mountain tourist attraction near our city. After I picked her up from school, we headed out talking about her day and anticipated how much fun it was going to be on the mountain tour. However, upon realizing the necessity of an after-school snack, we decided to make a quick stop at a passing gas station.
The city we live in is mid-sized and like many throughout the U.S., has intermittently struggled with an increase in violent crimes. Our family moved to this area several years ago with the goal to plant churches. With that in mind, we choose to trust God in our everyday life and also use vigilance wherever we go. On this day in particular I had no idea what we were about to encounter.
As we walked into the store, my daughter was laughing and filled with excitement, but I was immediately on high alert when we entered. Something felt off, and I began to pray in my heart for wisdom and protection. I noticed there were several questionable individuals near the entrance and at the front counter.
We walked to the back of the store and began perusing the snack shelves and drink fridges. Then, without warning, a customer at the counter began raising her voice, shouting threats and expletives at the manager.
Being 6 foot 4 inches tall, I’m usually able to look over merchandise racks and see across retail stores. As I glanced over, an unwelcome series of events began to unfold. The customer was shouting even louder as the other individuals I had seen at the entrance started to laugh and egg her on.
After several more threats, we heard a loud SMACK! In a split second, I gently pulled my daughter close to me, hiding her behind the shelves as I continued to keep my eyes on the ensuing chaos. My daughter stood directly in front of me now and was silent as she calmly held onto my hands across her shoulders.
The loud crash was either a gunshot or someone striking the counter violently with a hard object. We waited silently to find out.
As we stood there in the back of the store, the peace of God washed over us, and I continued to pray about what to do next. If it was indeed gun violence, we were trapped between the gunman and the exit. It was clear that the woman had lost all control of her emotions.
Praise God that moments later the situation was resolved. She did not have a gun and eventually left, hurling deadly threats with even more abrasive and wicked language than before.
Once back in our car, refreshments in hand, we continued our trip up the mountain. Shaken but always strong, my little girl asked why the lady was so mad, and I did my best to explain.
She responded, “They need to close that gas station, because of those violent people!” Using this as an opportunity to show her where our hope is found, I replied, “Violent people can be anywhere at any time. Without Jesus, there is no hope against rage and violence.”
Agreeing together, we continued on our way determined to enjoy our afternoon adventure.
As we neared our destination, the conversation returned to normal, and she proudly shared a story of a new friend she made at school that week.
“I made a new friend at school. Her name is Sarah, and she loves Jesus!” she said excitedly.
I replied, “Really? That’s great! How did you find out she loves Jesus?”
Without missing a beat, she told me, “Well, I asked her if she knows Yeshua, Jesus.” Perplexed and with a little chuckle in my heart, I thought to myself only a pastor’s daughter would ask that question that way. I probed a little further, “Why did you call him Yeshua?”
With a twinkle in her eye, she answered, “Because that’s His Hebrew name!”
Immediately, I felt the presence of the Lord in our car, and I began to tear up. It was as if in that one tiny moment I could feel the Father’s smile of approval.
It’s not just the big moments that impact our kids. Learning and loving are equally and sometimes more importantly found in the everyday, normal moments.
Thinking about the peace of God and the trust my little girl had in the chaos of earlier paired with something as simple as her remembering we had taught her the Hebrew name of our Lord Jesus—my heart was full.
Parents, your kids are listening and watching your life. Don’t get distracted or discouraged if you miss the mark or feel that you’re failing.
God’s grace is enough and He will give His Holy Spirit in a greater measure to those who ask (Luke 11:9–13). Give them something to live for, by making it your aim to please God in all you do.
Trust in the faithfulness of God for all that they will face in this life. Be confident that he will lead you as you lead your children (Prov. 14:26; 20:7; Rom. 8:29–29; 1 Thes. 5:24).