When my daughter Carmen was almost 3 years old, we lived in Sacramento, California. At that age she was beginning to explore her new world and into a lot of things. But we did not put away our figurines and “whatnots” – we taught her not to touch them.
For the most part she was obedient and never bothered them. But one day she was overwhelmed with temptation … the need to touch the untouchable was just too much for her. When weakness met opportunity, she transgressed. She was alone in the den, still wearing her pink PJ jump suit. She picked up the forbidden “fruit” and began to fondle it. About that time, I entered from the other side of the room and caught her red-handed.
As I started towards her with one of those stern “you’re in trouble” looks, she quickly put down the figurine. A look of sheer panic flashed across her face. As I got closer, my 3-year-old daughter dropped both hands to her side, looked straight into heaven, and with a voice of utter desperation cried, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
(Do you really have to ask? Well, of course not … how do you spank a child who is appealing for Divine intervention?).
I was astonished that she had learned this lesson so soon.
I have remembered that moment many, many times – not just because it was cute, sweet, and precious – but because there have been many times when I’ve needed to follow her example.
Sometimes I had been caught red-handed by the Holy Spirit … when I had picked up what I should have left alone … when I knew I had disobeyed my Father … when I was dismayed by my obvious transgression.
But more often it has been in those moments of life when I was simply overwhelmed by circumstances beyond my control and situations I could not change or manage … when I was without strength … or words … and all that was left was a tattered faith and a stumbling determination.
More than once I have done what I learned from my child … put my hands to my side, looked straight into heaven and said His name, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.”
No, it’s not a magical formula … not mumbo jumbo. But if it has the same effect in heaven as it did in my living room … if it touched the heavenly Father’s heart the way it touched mine … it may be the most eloquent and powerful prayers I have ever prayed.
In the night seasons I have sometimes wondered if I would make it. I’m still here. Bruised … bearing the scars of battle … limping a bit … but still standing and still moving forward … perhaps slower than in times past, but still moving.
“Because I the Lord do not change, therefore you are not consumed,” God said through Malachi. “If the Lord had not been on my side the enemy would have swallowed me alive,” the singer sang.
In my darkest hour I know that someway, somehow, there is a way of deliverance … an answer … help in the time of trouble. With hands at my side and my face lifted to heaven, my prayer is the one I learned so long ago from a little blonde beauty in pink pajamas …
“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus”