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The conductor called, “All aboard!” and I felt like a character from the Polar Express. Except that it was hot because I was in Florida, and it wasn’t Christmas Eve. But, just like the passengers of the Polar Express, we were on a journey of faith. Would we believe that God was a kind and loving Father? The face attached to the little hand I held was very serious, as if the conductor were some sort of priest, and the train a cathedral. We stepped on board, found a seat and covered ourselves with the blanket a stranger had given us on the first leg of this trip. Five year old J. knelt on his seat in the over-air-conditioned train, so that he could watch the activity as we pulled out of Orlando while I reflected on how we got here, and how God answered the prayers of a little boy.
It was the night of my friend Sue’s memorial service and I was tucking then 4 year old J. into bed. We were about to say our prayers. J. prayed for his friends S. and E., Sue’s children, and for Uncle Steve. And then, without any warning, before I could explain to J. the dangers of doing such a thing, he asked God for a trip to Disney World. Long pause. I believe that we can come to God with our desires, but I had seen so many people disappointed, and I didn’t want my son’s faith setback. As a single mom, I was struggling to provide milk let alone a vacation.
J. sensed my discomfort. “Mommy, my Sunday School teacher said that we could ask God for anything.” I snapped myself out of deep thought.
“You can. God wants you to talk to Him.”
“My teacher said that when I need to trust God, I can give a seed to show I believe Him.”
“That’s right. There are many times in the Bible when someone gave something even though they had very little, and God took care of their need.”
“Well, I don’t need to go to Disney World, but I sure would like to. So, tomorrow, can I give some of my toys away to the neighbors who don’t know God?”
As a parent, so many thoughts swirled in my mind. Do I want him to think that we give to get? What if he gives his toys away and nothing happens? But still, tears began to fill my eyes at the simplicity of my son’s faith.
“Sure, honey. Tomorrow we’ll go through your toys.”
I secretly hoped J. would forget about the previous night’s prayer, but the moment he awoke I heard the clatter of plastic in his room.
“Mom?” he called out.
“Could you bring me two big garbage bags?”
I went to the sink to grab the box of garbage bags. J. was making two piles.
“I want to give some of my toys to Carter and some of them to Nathan,” he smiled.
The Christmas before, I had found a K-Mart that was going out of business. J. loved Batman, and I was able to buy a lot of Batman toys for 75% off. They were J.’s favorite! He had Mr. Freeze, and several models of the Bat-mobile, he played with them daily.
I had to hold my tongue as I watched my son, choose his best toys to give to the neighborhood boys. “Maybe Carter and Nathan will know how much God loves them, when I give them my best toys!” J. was excited.
So, on a chilly October Saturday morning, J. and I made some deliveries with sacks of toys, just like Santa. J. was too shy to do the talking when we got to the boys’ homes, but he was on a high the rest of the day. “I hope Carter likes Mr. Freeze as much as I did,” he said over lunch.
Every night, for months following J. ended his prayers by saying, “…and God, thank you for our trip to Disney World. Amen.”
He never complained about missing his toys, or doubted that God would hear his request. One Sunday after church, the most unlikely person came up to me and said, “We’ve heard that J. has been asking God for a trip to Disney World…we’d like to help make that happen.”
And so, like a whirlwind, God came in and took care of our transportation…Amtrak…which was awesome because the only thing J. loved more than Batman was trains. Then God took care of our accommodations. The rest I had to use my faith on, but I knew that if God had gotten us that far, that He would finish the rest.
Disney World was like a beautiful dream. When we walked through the gates, I had to work hard to keep from sobbing at the perfection of everything. Employees played tag with J. We watched fireworks late at night. J. and I walked the parks from the time they opened until the time they closed. It was truly the Magic Kingdom. I found myself saying to J., “I can’t believe we’re really here.”
“Why not, Mommy? I asked God.”
I was humbled. J. never doubted that God wanted a good thing for us. I had doubted every step of the way. I guess that is why Jesus instructed us to come to Him as little children. My child had taught me a lesson.
I looked out of the train window, now fogged by J’s breath. “Thank you God, for being my boy’s Father, and thank you for being so good to us, even though I doubted your Goodness.”
For the next chapter in this series, click here.
Counting graces with Ann:
#11 – Grateful that my garage sale is over!
#12 – I get to serve God by serving people this week! What a privelege!
#13 – The Golden shaft of a sunshower…
#14 – Autumn shadows
#15 – The dog’s tail wagging in welcome.
#16 – Pumpkin flavored anything.
#17 – My son’s first day of school…ever…at 18!!