Heartprints

Children and Listening to the Holy Spirit

It was noon on Sunday. Church had just let out. We were hungry and ready to go home, but as we loaded the kids in the car and into their car seats, we both looked at each other and had the same thought. “Let’s go see the kid’s great grandparents (my maternal grandparents) and take lunch … KFC.” My grandpa loved Kentucky Fried Chicken. So, we went through the drive-through, ordered and headed to their house. When we arrived and knocked on their door, their eyes lit up and my grandpa started laughing, “I’m so glad you came by!” He had a way of laughing and shaking his head, at the same time when he was tickled or excited about something. He continued, “I was just sitting here thinking’ how nice it would be to see ya’ll today!”

We could barely get in the door before my grandma was reaching for the “grandbabies.” She laughed and clapped excitedly, “Oh…. let me see my babies! I want to hug their necks and kiss those precious little cheeks.” (My third child had not yet been born).

Nothing ever made me feel so loved as seeing my grandparents. It is unconditional; drop everything to visit kind of love. The kind that says, “You matter so much, nothing else is going to take my attention while you are here.” Grandparents can do that because they have time on their hands and great wisdom. They know about life. They have lived long enough to see great days and awful ones. That kind of life experience breeds wisdom.

We prayed and enjoyed lunch together. Honestly, I cannot remember what we talked about. I just remember the time being so good. I remember talking on the way home with my children’s father, about how glad we both were that we stopped there. We both had such a good feeling from it. We had brightened their day. That had brightened ours.

That day was the last time I saw my grandpa and laughed with him. The next time I saw him was three days later, around 2:00 a.m. in the hospital—gasping for air and barely holding onto life. It was that quick. His health had been failing for years. He had terrible emphysema. However, he didn’t seem bad that Sunday.

As I sat by his hospital bed and cried with my mom, grandma, sister and dad, I realized how precious that Sunday lunch had been. The Holy Spirit had prompted us to stop and spend time with him and my grandma. Oh how glad I was, that I had. I wonder at times, if there are promptings or moments when God is quietly urging me to reach out to someone and I fail to do it.

Do you ever have those moments when someone comes to mind? Do you think to yourself, I should call them, and then get busy and it passes? Or, do you stop what you are doing and make the call? My grandpa died the next day surrounded by his entire family. His son and his whole family, my mom and her whole family, and all the grandchildren surrounded his bed. The great grandchildren, too young to be present were with sitters. Before, he slipped into unconsciousness, he motioned for us to draw near and he whispered to us, the last words he would ever say here on earth. “It’s beautiful! They are calling me. I can hear the angels. I gotta go.”

I didn’t want him to go. I selfishly wanted him to stay. I wanted more Sundays together. I wanted more time. However, I also didn’t want him to suffer anymore. I knew he was ready to meet his Savior.

I have looked back on that Sunday many times. It is one of my favorite days because I know God prompted us to go visit. I know that He works that way. He brings people to mind. I have seen Him do it when my children pray. From the time they were little, they would ask about someone or pray for someone on their mind. Often times, they would draw pictures for people, or tell me to invite their grandparents over for dinner. The Holy Spirit prompts us. I believe He puts that little gnawing sense in our mind or heart for someone. It’s a thought or urging in your spirit that makes you want to pray for that person or reach out to them.

So how do we know when that is happening for our children or how can we encourage them to listen to the Holy Spirit?

Luke 11:28 says, He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

1.      Pray with them. I believe this is always the first thing I mention to do. But, it’s because prayer is the way we communicate with God. When we pray with our children, we teach them that it is important to talk to God.

2.      Allow your child to do for others. Maybe it is baking cookies for a neighbor, or taking the mail to an elderly person in the neighborhood. Maybe, it is simply mailing a picture your child drew to a grandparent, or great-grandparent. The more you validate their willingness to give, the more you open their hearts to God’s whisperings.

3.      Let your child be a part of you helping others. It could be taking a meal to a family who has an ill loved one or a new baby. Let your child help make the meal and go with you to drop it off. You don’t have to go in the person’s house. However, letting your child see what it all looks like makes a huge impact on them. (Especially, if they get to carry something up to the house.)

4.      As children grow and mature, they will often think of ways to serve others without our help. Encourage them when the Holy Spirit puts something on their heart. Pray with them to follow through with whatever God is leading them to do. It may be to go on a mission trip, or minister to a friend. Whatever it is, start with prayer and ask God to given them wisdom and guidance.

5.      Remember God is good. His desire is that we not miss opportunities to show His love to others.

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Sherry Shepherd is an experienced, adaptable professional specialized in writing for faith-based organizations. She has worked as an editor and writer for newspaper, movie guides, publishing houses, churches and several non-profits. Her scope of work includes corporate and fundraising materials, advertising, web, brochures, booklets, books, blogs and biblical training materials. However, her heart is drawn to any type of creative writing, where she can motivate while conveying a biblical message and telling a story. Sherry is the mother of three grown children, who have been the source of some of her greatest joy, laughter and material!