Death flew into our family that day on the wings of a storm-tossed, little bird. My thoughts struggled to find words of explanation. I knew the answer full-well but felt unprepared to explore the topic with my precious preschoolers.
For days, our small Samsung TV tried valiantly to warn us of the pending deluge. Although our Chinese language was still elementary, we did understand the one word our meteorologist frequently used: “Tai-fung.” Translated to mean “a big wind,” the gales of this typhoon proved to be an understatement.
Our children posted a watch of the event at a low, first-floor window. As the monsoon rains pelted the windowpane, a struggling sparrow swerved across our courtyard, then slammed into the glass. Comprehending the seriousness of the incident, our four-year-old exclaimed, “Go get him, Mom. He needs us.”
The earnestness in her eyes prompted me more than the plight of the bird. Armed with a rain-slick and a hand towel, I stepped into the downpour to scoop up the little sparrow. As I scrambled into the house, two small heads smelling of baby shampoo hovered closely for their first glimpse.
The feathered creature twitched and fluttered a bit, while the girls kept vigil. Within the hour, his erratic heartbeat stopped, and his legs straightened into a telltale stiffness. I remained nearby, not for the lifeless body, but for the life-filled hearts of my daughters.
After a pause of silence, Hilary stated simply, “We should keep him. Now, he won’t fly away.”
My thoughts flew immediately to the inevitable decomposition they would have to see. The girls spoke of how soft the bird would feel in hand. I envisioned the threat of insects in my home. The preschoolers enumerated the thrill of their friends. While I considered their possibility of contracting a disease, they communicated their excitability of owning the perfect pet.
My mind reflected on how I would explain. Their childlike thoughts knew nothing of death, so I paused, seeking words they could understand. I finally lighted upon the lesser of the problems. “He’ll begin to smell. We can’t keep him because death has an odor,” I explained quietly. My words proved true when the third day of rain prevented burial.
I recognize the gap between an adult’s understanding and that of a child. How much wider must be the breach between my incomplete comprehension and God’s? When I utter my juvenile tumble into His Ear, He patiently listens without interruption. His thoughts, though wider, deeper, and broader, acknowledge my viewpoint. After all, I am His child.
As we pray, our Father leans in, straining to find the point of connection between our desire and His. His heart stirs with our simplicity and arouses His Smile (Matthew 18:3). Our immaturity draws His tender Hand toward our upturned cheek. “Do not be afraid, little flock,” He empathizes, locking His eye to our own, “despite your childishness and inexperience I’ve chosen gladly to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).
Our prayer life embarrasses us with its inability and infantile weakness. But “the Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear Him. For He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust” (Psalm 103:13-14 NLT). He sees our struggle to pray, so He sends His Spirit to intercede with us — using a comprehension far beyond our years (Romans 8:26-27). Our lack of appropriate language doesn’t bother Him. “Let Me join you as you pray,” He offers.
His Spirit prays for me with a comprehension far beyond my own Click To Tweet
Although we hardly understand the words, still we murmur, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done.” We cannot comprehend higher than our understanding (Matthew 6:10). So, we repeat His own Words back to Him, and as we relax into His will, He enlarges our narrowness with power beyond our knowledge. When His Kingdom enters, situations that we thought permanently hardened, are unfolded effortlessly.
“O blessed Father, I rush into Your Presence like a noisy little girl, filled with her own ideas. Soothe my pounding heart with Your Touch and quieten my lips with Your smile. Slow me down to see You.
“As King, You are lofty and exalted, reigning supreme while earthly governments rise and fall (Isaiah 6:1; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Isaiah 9:6). As Creator, Your Hands fashioned and made me, weaving me together wonderfully within my mother’s womb (Psalm 119:73; 139:13). As Father, You draw me to Your Side, protecting me, guiding me, and rejoicing over me, despite my childishness (John 6:44; 2 Thessalonians 3:3; Isaiah 30:21; Zephaniah 3:17). Thank You.
“I come before You well content with childish weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:10). You are my Father, and You know me very well (Psalm 139:6). I no longer expect my prayers to be skillfully composed or perfectly worded. I vulnerably open my heart. Deposit Your prayers there. Pray through me, as Your Kingdom expands within me. You are a good, good Father. Hallelujah!”