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May 29, 2007

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Reggie,
Having just taught this to our 1st/2nd grade children's church (going through the Nicene Creed), I have an example for you.

While recently taking care of friends' children for 2 weeks, their little girl expressed frustration over a classmate's actions. The other girl was mean, rude and just hurtful towards my little charge. "Annie" was frustrated and in tears most of the evening. As we talked, the only solution I could come up with was to pray. "Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies," I shared. "We need to pray for your classmate and ask Jesus to change her heart."

Annie, the consumate thinker, bemoaned, "That'll take a 1,000 years!"

"Yes, it could take that long, but it could take just a day. But, do you believe that Jesus performed miracles?"

"Yes."

"Do you think he can still perform miracles?"

"Yes."

"Then he can perform a miracle in your friend's heart. We'll pray for her each night, ask God to change her heart, and ask God to help us to love her better."

Reggie, we prayed each morning and each evening, sometimes getting good reports, sometimes getting bad, shedding lots of tears. But, come a week later, Annie came home and eagerly shared, "Miss Debby, my friend was nice today. She wanted me to play with her. Our prayers worked!"

I learned two major things those few weeks: first, if we have just that little bit of faith -- real faith that the power of God is available to us because it is in Jesus and we are in him, then we can move mountains (or our hearts to love better); second, miracles continue to happen each and every day in our hearts to make us less selfish, less bitter and less prideful so we can be loved by others.

In two little girls I saw Jesus work -- as only God can.

Thanks, Debby. Not growing up in a household of faith myself, the only childhood prayers I remember were manipulative -- e.g., "Dear God, please let me hit a game-winning home run." It's remarkable what a difference it makes to grow up in a home and around adults who believe that Jesus has come and that he cares. When my boys were little (ages 5, 3, & 1), a huge hailstorm blew through the Greater Orlando area, leaving almost every resident with roof or car damage of some sort. While my family watched from inside our house, the hail collapsed our patio roof and pool screen. My 5-year old went down on his knees and said, "We need to pray to Jesus." The rest of us joined him. Honestly, his instincts were better than mine! At the same time, it is clear that he had learned something in our home ... and my wife and I were grateful to receive this return on our investment in our children. Thanks for your faithfulness in embodying faith to Annie. Reggie

Great question, Reggie, and I'm going to email you, because my answer is a bit on the lengthy side, but the short version is that Jesus utterly transformed my life. Not just once, but several times. Most impressive, to me, is that he came after me when I had decided to throw it all away.

~Vicky

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