I watched him as he sat up on the bed in the darkened room we were sharing for the night. He slid off quietly, so as not to wake his brother who was sleeping beside him, and then began to feel his way to the bathroom.
Once there he raised his hand to the light switch and then stopped. I couldn't tell what the problem was but something held me back from letting him know I was awake. I waited and watched and then saw him slip into the dark bathroom and close the door. A second later, his skinny arm slipped out a small crack in the door and snaked its way up to the light switch.
The light snapped on and he quickly pulled his arm back in and closed the door.
At this point, I was pretty sure what he was doing but I wanted to see if he'd do the same on his way out. I didn't have long to wait for the answer. The door opened a crack and that same small arm reached up to flip the switch, only this time he couldn't find it. Finally accepting defeat, he moved as fast as he could to get through the door and then close it before the light could disturb anybody. He found the switch, turned it off, and then slowly began the blind walk back to the bed.
My heart swelled as I watched him but I maintained my silence and eventually went back to sleep.
The following morning the incident immediately came to mind. I found my long-legged, 8 year old boy and asked him about what I'd seen. His cheeks turned pink and he smiled shyly. "I didn't want to wake anybody up," was his response.
The thing I worry most about following God into this place is that somehow we're going to wreck the ones we brought with us. That they'll feel pushed out, or overlooked, or forgotten. That their characters will decay and we won't notice it until it's too late. And truth be told, there's been some of all of that. But God has never allowed it to go unchecked. He always helps us notice it and then gives us ideas to do better.
My little man has had to share us so many times over. He's had to make room where he felt there wasn't any and he's had to trust us when we tell him God wouldn't ask anything of us that we wouldn't voluntarily give if we could see what he sees. There have been far too many times where we haven't balanced things well, but there've been just as many times where God has leveled those scales.
Because He sees inside the hearts. Ours and theirs. He knows how badly we want to obey and yet how scared we are that obedience will cost us what He gave us first. He has no such intention.
Somehow, in the dark of that night just a few sleeps ago, seeing my boy so careful to protect our sleep made me realize he's not being ruined at all. In fact, just the opposite.
He's being refined.
I scooped all three boys onto my lap at different times yesterday and told them how proud I was to watch them grow when they could be choosing to wither. I told them how much they're teaching me as I watch them make those hard choices, again and again. I told them how impactful God saw their work here to be. They each looked at me with soft eyes and slow smiles. They felt the words and I could almost see them relax.
To be noticed is a powerful thing when you're young. To be encouraged in a difficult work is helpful for us all.
But to imagine your offering of self is pleasing to God is the surest way to find your burden lifted ... no matter what age you are!