When Children Encounter God

Anna is 11.  She’s feisty, passionate, and has a razor sharp wit.   She likes all the normal 11 year old girl things like fingernail polish and her iPad and her new puppy.   Most days are spent juggling between school, making videos and setting her siblings straight.

Today, however, she had a powerful encounter with God.

She was a little discouraged and tired when, in her words, she

felt kind of funny, and suddenly I knew God was with me.  I went down on my knees in the bathroom and I started to laugh and cry at the same time and I was so happy all of a sudden!  I just laughed and cried!  I knew it was the Holy Spirit!  I knew He was doing it to me!

She actually cried and laughed so loudly that her twin sister, Mercy, came upstairs to check on her and found her in a pile on the floor, overwhelmed by the presence of God.  It had a profound effect on both of them.  Anna was astounded that the Holy Spirit would touch her in that way and Mercy was hungry for a similar experience.

I know, this is making some of you nervous.  What do we do with it when our kids seem to have an encounter with God – especially one so demonstrative?

Sadly, some people feels compelled to explain it away, dismiss it or minimize it. After all, we wouldn’t want our children to grow up with some strange tendency to expect profound encounters, would we?  We almost feel like we have to prepare them for adulthood by training them to anticipate a dull Christian existence.

I think that’s a mistake. We’re actually talking our kids out of God when we do that.

In Acts 2, as Peter preached to those gathered who were trying to sort out what was happening as the Holy Spirit was poured out on those in the upper room, he took a minute to start by quoting the prophet Joel.

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…”

It’s clearly God’s plan for the Holy Spirit to impact and use our children.   At the same time, we are the parents and the children will look to us for help interpreting their experiences.   How can we help them walk this out?

Talk it through.

Tonight, at bed time, we had Anna tell her story.  Most of us had heard it during the day, but I had her retell it to her siblings and allow them to ask questions.  They wondered how it felt, what she was thinking, and why she was crying.  She answered the questions that she had answers for, and was honest about the things she couldn’t understand.

I explained to her that telling our story was important because it helped remind us of how things happened as well as gave her confidence to testify to what God had done for her in other settings because one of the ways we overcome is by our testimony.   When things get hard, I’ll have her tell us the story again.

Address it with scripture.

Read passages from Bible where God’s power was displayed.  Adults are wired to doubt but children are wired to believe.  I think this is why Jesus never said “If you have the faith of an adult….” or “gather the adults to me…”.

Kids approach the supernatural with a natural curiosity and an unassuming spirit.  Give them some tracks to run on that are found in the Bible.

Pray with them.

Never let an encounter, big or small, go without following up with prayer.  In this case, Anna’s heart was still very tender and I believe she still in a heightened state of sensitivity to the Lord.  We prayed God would continue to speak to her and that she would recognize His voice quickly – and then we prayed that her siblings would have their own encounters with the Holy Spirit.

Some would say that kids can get overly emotional and this can all get a little weird. That’s true.  The far more common scenario, however, is that we don’t give them room to breath spiritually and it gets a little boring. 

Lead your children through these encounters – even if you’re not having them yourself.  Personally, I am provoked for more of God tonight.

I am being led that direction by my own daughter.  Life does not get better than that.


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