Mark Batterson has already written numerous books for adults to help them walk through numerous sides of their faith, but recently he and his daughter Summer wrote a beautiful children’s book that will draw children closer to God and how He speaks to all of us, both big and small. This sweet book with lyrical storytelling will draw your little one’s heart closer to God, and I have a feeling you will be drawn closer to Him too. It’s a grace to welcome Mark to the farm’s front porch today….
If all the girls in the world were lined up, and I could only choose one to be my daughter, I would choose you.
Since she was a little girl, Summer has heard me say those words. And I mean it even more each time I say it. Why? My love for my daughter compounds interest every single day!
As a pastor I spent many years taking every theology class under the sun, but all of that education doesn’t add up to the day I became a dad. Then, and only then, was I able to understand how beloved we are by the Heavenly Father.
Yes, the Father sent Jesus for all of us.
But the mystery of Calvary is this: He would have done it for one of us!
As a dad, I get it.
As parents, some of the most sacred moments we have are reading bedtime storybooks. Our kids are a captive audience, tucked into bed. Plus, they don’t want us to leave because it means “lights out.” We’ve got to steward those “tuck the kids into bed” moments, even when we’re all tuckered out.
I loved reading to Summer when she was a little girl, but I have to admit, getting to write a book together is even better!
The goal? Pretty simple: to help parents help their children hear God.
Is anything more important?
A quarter-century of parenting has taught me a few hard-earned lessons.
1. You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.
Prayer turns parents into prophets who shape the destiny of their children. But that is only one side of the coin. Half of prayer is talking. The other half is listening.
2. My kids need to hear the voice of God more than mine!
When our kids were small, I would sometimes speak in a very soft whisper. If you’re a parent, you know where this is going. My kids had to get very close to me in order to hear me. That’s when I would reach out, grab them, and give them a great big bear hug!
When God reveals Himself to the prophet Elijah, He lowers His voice to a gentle whisper. Why does God speak in a whisper? He wants us close enough to not just hear His words, but hear His heart. He wants us close enough to embrace us with His Almighty arms!
God is present. In fact, He is omnipresent. All that’s absent is our awareness. Like Jacob, we need to open our eyes, open our ears. We need to wake up to the God who is all around us all the time. Children are not too young to hear His voice. In fact, they might find it easier than adults. Not unlike learning a foreign language, kids are more amendable to new phonemes.
Do you remember the story of Samuel? God spoke to him as a young child, but he confused it for the voice of Eli, the High Priest. Evidently, their voices sounded very similar! Do you remember what Eli said? He instructed Samuel to pray a very simple, very brave prayer: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” What if we started every day that way?
Those seven words encompass our job as parents. God speaks in lots of different languages.
His native tongue is Scripture, but God also speaks through doors and desires and dreams, as well as people and problems and even pain.
And what is God saying, in that voice, still and small? That you, my dear are His favorite of all.
This past year, Lora and I had the joy of walking Summer down the aisle on her wedding day. When it was time to pronounce a blessing on them, as husband and wife, I reminded Summer of the words I’d whispered a thousand times: if all the girls in the world were lined up and I could only choose one to be my daughter, I would choose you.
Then I flipped the script, turned toward Austin, her husband, and said: if all the boys in the world were lined up and we could only choose one to be our son-in-law, we would choose you.
At the end of the day, I want to be famous in my house. Success is when those who know you best actually respect you most. That’s my wife and my kids.
And while parenting is incredibly challenging, the goal is quite simple.
I want to help my kids hear God’s voice!
I want them to hear His voice in my voice.
I want them to hear His voice everywhere they go, in everything they do.
Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper.
Mark’s latest children’s book, God Speaks in Whispers, is co-written with his daughter Summer and explores the big question children often ask at the beginning of their faith journey – How does God speak to me?
[ Our humble thanks to Waterbrook for their partnership in today’s devotion ]