John Deere Moments
“Miss Mel, see the problem is I really want to believe God is real but I’m just not sure he’s real. COVID has been so hard for me, I haven’t been able to go to church and I just am not sure God is actually real anymore. What should I do?”
On day 1 of one of the summer camps I spoke at this summer, a 10-year-old boy from Nebraska sought me out to share this concern with me. His “I really want Him to be real” echoes what I’ve heard from hundreds of kids throughout the years. I believe that because we were created by God for a relationship with Him, we are always longing for Him. Kids are no different, I think they are just more honest than adults. They think about God, want to know God, and are hungry for Him to be real.
As that 10-year-old looked at me with true concern in his eyes, I quietly breathed a prayer of surrender. Long ago, I learned that my job is not to prove God to kids, but, rather, to help them make room to notice God. No matter how much I know that, I still have to remind myself and surrender my desire to “fix” or “answer” their deep questions. If I fix it, then they don’t need God to be real, they just need access to me and that’s a very slippery slope. “That can feel really hard, can’t it? I personally know God is real, but it sounds like you want to know for yourself. God is always at work around us, why don’t you ask God to help you notice Him this week?”
His eyes lit up, “I can do that! I can be on the lookout for God. I’ll report back daily, Miss Mel.” He saluted me (I’m not making this up) and went on his way. Every day, he would check in with me, “I’m on the lookout!”
On the last day of camp, I didn’t see him until he was in the sharing line at our last chapel. Kids line up to share what God had been teaching them all week. When he got to me, he told us all, “I wasn’t sure God was real, so I’ve been on the lookout for Him this week. One morning I was praying, and I asked God if he was real to have a deer come by. Right after, I said that a John Deere tractor drove by, and I knew it was God. Now I know He’s real and I’ll never forget it.”
When I picked my chin up off the ground, I cheered with all the other kids and I affirmed him for being so watchful for God. I also laughed and got tears in my eyes. Once again, God used a kid to teach me a lesson. God is always at work around us and when we’re attentive to Him. He always shows up. My job is to be on the lookout for those John Deere moments.
~ Melissa MacDonald