Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Sacred Echo for Allyson

Last Sunday, I brought Allyson to a monthly worship service at a local church. It was my second time to attend this service, called Habitation, and I knew that Allyson would love the music. Still, it was hard to convince her to come along because the only other time she'd been to a branch of this church, she had not enjoyed the Sunday School.

"This time, you'll be in the service with me," I explained.

"I just really hate that church," she said. But she grudgingly agreed to come along.

When we arrived, I was thrilled to see that my friend Wendy had brought her daughter Hayden, who is about the same age as Allyson. All through the service, when the two of them weren't standing with hands raised to heaven, they were huddled together in their seats, heads together.

The worship was just as thrilling as I'd remembered, but this time it was even sweeter with my mom on one side and my daughter on the other.

This was a special presbytery service, which included words of encouragement and prayer over individuals in the congregation. Even though no one in our group was singled out, I still enjoyed hearing the words given to others, having received permission to "steal" any message that resonated with my own spirit. But as time wore on, I feared that Allyson would become bored with all that talking.

After the service, Allyson begged to visit the gift shop because she said she had some money she was just itching to spend. It was getting late, and we still needed to drive Mom home, but Allyson managed to wear me down.

After five or ten minutes of shopping, she selected a scripture journal for the low, low price of $9.99. She jubilantly explained that she'd initially passed this journal by, thinking it would be too expensive, but it turned out to be cheaper than the one she'd planned to settle on. "What a blessing!" she said.

We hadn't even left the parking lot before she discovered another blessing. "It has my favorite verse on page one!" she announced. "See? 'I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.' It's Psalm 139."

"That's wonderful, baby!" I answered, grinning over the joy of sharing my favorite Bible chapter with my 8-year-old daughter. It's no wonder, since I've been quoting it to her since she was a toddler. As soon as she could speak, she began quoting it with me.

Allyson exulted over that verse most of the way to her Aunt Emily's house, where Mom had left her car. When we arrived, she talked me into going inside for a drink of water even though it was after 9 by now.

Inside, Allyson's eyes fell on a picture on the kitchen counter, a Sunday School paper belonging to her little cousin Charlie. She read the verse at the top of the page aloud: "God made me wonderful."

"Hey! Isn't that...?" She snatched the paper off the counter. "Yes! That's Psalm 139. I thought it sounded like the same verse."

I smiled, touching her shoulder. "Allyson, do you know what this is? It's a sacred echo!"

"Yes, it is a sacred echo," she agreed. "It's my very first one!"

On our way out the door, Allyson told Aunt Emily and Uncle Paul some of the stories we'd heard about prophecies fulfilled. She was still calling out last words over her shoulder as I led her to the car.

"Wow, you were really paying attention," I said.

"I wasn't just sitting there, Mama," she answered.

I laughed. "I figured you might have been bored."

"No, it was awesome. I loved all of it," she said. "I want to go again next month."

Allyson exulted over that sacred echo all the way home. "I know God must have led me to that book," she said. "I didn't even think I could afford it."

"I'm glad you found it," I said.

"God must really want me to think about that verse," she continued. "What does He want me to know?"

"Yes," I agreed. "He must be telling you something,"

She was silent for a mile or so.

"Maybe He wants me to know... Well, you know how sometimes I wonder if I am pretty enough?"

I bit my tongue, afraid to interrupt. No, I did not know my daughter was already wondering that in third grade. "Mmm hmm?" I murmured.

"Well, I think he wants me to know that I am beautiful because He made me just the way He wants me. I am beautiful on the inside."

It was all I could do to keep from pounding the steering wheel and hollering, "YES!!!" Instead, I said, "Yes, Allyson. You are so beautiful. It's not because of how you look, even though you are very pretty. It's your heart. God made your heart so beautiful."

"Yes," she said. "God made us all beautiful."

After another block or two of silence, she said, "I'm so glad that I went tonight. If I hadn't gone, I would have missed the scripture journal and the sacred echo. I was so set against going to that church, but I was wrong. God knew I needed to be there."

At home, she wrote her very first journal entry. She wrote out a prayer, asking God to help her be willing to try things more than once, even when she thinks she doesn't like something.

It's so exciting to see my little girl learning such vital truths about herself and about her maker. I pray she continues to have a heart to hear God's voice.

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