My youngest started to cry as I tucked him into bed one night.
“Mom, I think I’m going to die tonight.”
Fear shot through me. I’ve heard stories of prophesies coming out of the mouths of babes. Was this one of those moments where he understood himself and the world in such a perfect, childlike state that he knew something that I did not?
“Are you feeling okay?”
“Does your tummy hurt?”
“Does anything else hurt or feel weird?”
“No. I just think I’m going to die. I don’t want to die.”
Okay. I think this was just one of those moments when young children realize that life is finite. He was just afraid. My fear was being alleviated.
“Oh baby, you’re not going to die tonight. Are you just scared?”
Oh, I leaned in and hugged my boy close. I wiped away his tears and stroked the floppy hair off of his forehead as I took the conversation on an awkward turn and tried to make light of the situation to distract him from his fear.
“Baby, there is nothing to be afraid of… I mean, unless you think your head might fall off. People who lose their heads usually die, but then they get to be in heaven. And heaven is a wonderful place! But your head isn’t just going to fall off in your sleep. I guarantee you it won’t. I don’t think you have anything to worry about tonight.”
Ugh. I never claimed to be mother of the year… I don’t know where I get these things. Why do I have to make serious conversations into a joke? Despite my super awkward parenting of this situation, my baby giggled. Maybe it was just what he needed.
Years before, I had sent my kids to a Bible study where they turned weekly memory verses into a song. The only one I remembered that night and to this day was set to the tune of Frère Jacques.
“Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid. Your prayers have been heard. Your prayers have been heard. Luke 1:13, Luke 1:13. Do not be afraid. Your prayers have been heard.“
That night, I was so thankful that I had hidden those words in my heart and so had my boy. I got back to the heart of things. I asked him,
“What do you think we should do when we are afraid?”
“Pray,” he said.
“Yes. And God promises to always hear you.”
We talked about how he can always talk to God. Ask the One who holds the world in his hands to help you to not be afraid. Sing the song of Luke 1:13. Call for Mommy. We will be there for him. He is not alone and never will be.
It was such a simple lesson for a four year old.
It’s a great lesson for an adult, too.
Today, I am clinging to Luke 1:13 in my daily anxiety. I’m banking on 1 John 5:14, that “if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.”
Thank God for that.