Those Rare, Precious ‘A-Ha!’ Gospel Moments

My wife and I can hardly exaggerate how grateful we are to be able to send our son to the week-long epic of fun and faith that make up The Crossing‘s annual craziness, “Kids Club.” For our family, 2015 was a banner year for many reasons, but one of those reasons easily eclipses all the rest.

Every summer, Kids Club tests nearly everyone’s ability to hang in there and keep going for the whole week. The activities, the noise and the sheer volume of adrenalin that surges before, during and after every evening surely pushes Crossing staff, volunteers, parents and (of course) kids to the brink. We wouldn’t miss it for the world!

Kids Club 2015By Thursday evening, the week was winding down and our 8-year-old son was fraying around the edges, so to speak. Exhausted and hungry, he ended his evening with a minor disagreement with one of his friends in his class, holding a grudge and refusing to forgive and let go of his anger. We were certainly dismayed by his behavior, but not at all surprised. This is a common sin pattern we see in his life, one we’ve been talking to him about with some small progress. But on nights like this past Thursday, the emphasis seemed to be on “small” rather than “progress.” It was one more opportunity for my wife to say, “Yeah, he’s just like his Daddy!”

With the ride home and the requisite tubby, we all prepared to fall into bed exhausted for the fourth night in a row. As usual, one of us was “selected” for night time reading, prayer and comfort. Thursday it was Mom’s turn, which in hindsight proved providential, as her ability to tolerate peevishness far exceeds my own.

As Shelly tucked our little man into bed, the two of them had a chance to review the “grievous offenses” that had taken place in the Kids Club classroom, discuss what else had transpired that evening and work through what a good response looks like and what a bad response looks like. She talked to him once again about how impossible it is for any of us to change our heart and do what we know God calls us to do in those moments, and then she began praying, thanking God for fighting our battles for us when, left alone to fight them, we would surely fail. As she was praying, our boy had what many of us would call “a moment of clarity.”

“Mom, I get it! When Eddie and Winnie (characters in the nightly Kids Club skit) weren’t able to win the fight against the Dark Knight, a.k.a. ‘Satan’ (he said dramatically), and the Good King came to fight for them, that’s Jesus! And Eddie and Winnie is us! We can’t fight our own battles and win, but Jesus fights them for us! It’s just like the Big God story, Mom!” (And yes, our son really does use the phrase “a.k.a.” in everyday conversation.)

Kids Club 2015My wife siezed the moment: “That’s right, Buddy. And it’s not just you that can’t win those battles against anger, either. Your Daddy and I both get angry, too. So does everyone else. In fact, your Daddy would tell you that he had all kinds of problems controlling his anger before he invited Jesus to help him. He still messes up sometimes, and some days he messes up a lot, but it’s nothing compared to how he used to be. We all need Jesus to help us fight these battles. We’ll never win on our own.”

So I’m not sure why Eli missed the message as it played out in front of him in the auditorium – maybe it had something to do with 800 other kids screaming all around him – but the powerful message of the gospel, winsomely dramatized, gave our family a picture to point to as we help our son recognize that his own besetting sins will only be diminished by the Good King’s work on his behalf.

We would never be able to replicate the combination of planning, prayer and participation in and around Kids Club that brought that conversation to fruition. Jesus Himself told us plainly that the workings of the Spirit are a mystery (John 3:5-9) and that we can’t possibly understand how the Spirit does His work in our hearts, all we see are the after-effects of His presence and power.

What I can say with confidence, though, is that the likelihood of that particular conversation taking place without the prodigious acting efforts of Winnie, Eddie, the Dark Knight and the Good King being on full display four nights in a row is considerably less somehow.

Kids Club 2015God seems especially pleased to use His church to impart truth and “A-Ha!” moments as a way of showing forth His glory and calling us to be one in heart, mind and spirit. As badly as we carry out that charge, He yet delights to use our meager efforts to powerful effect. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve seen God use even so-so efforts to bring about powerful change, and Kids Club is always delivered at a level far exceeding “so-so.”

So once again, our family wants to give a huge shout-out to everyone who made this year’s Kids Club possible, and to encourage parents to continue the conversations that last week’s amazing experience began. You never know what kind of “A-Ha” moments are ahead of you as a result of them.

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

John 15:8-11

By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

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