The other night I was putting our 4 year old daughter Avery to bed. We did the usual ritual – praying and telling God what we were thankful for from the day. Avery aways has really beautiful prayers – she is very free when she talks to God – she doesn’t hold back and is never self conscious about praying out loud. In this prayer she thanked God for “mommy, daddy, Will, Avery, Queenie, Will’s rats, and all our family, and all the people… (all of them … so know that you are being prayed for every single night)” and a long list of everything else she was thankful for… and the last one she said was “and thank you God for sidewalks.” Such a funny thing to be thankful for…
The day before was one of the first nice days we had all winter. And surprisingly enough it fell on day when we could all be home and go outside to enjoy the weather… Avery wanted to ride her bicycle and she jumped on it and raced down the driveway towards the street… I yelled after her to remind her to not go in the street. And in what I have found to be typically normal 4 year old girl fashion – she argued with me. She wanted to know why she couldn’t go in the street. (I am definitely beginning to see a pattern with Avery that I never saw as much in our son Will) … she argues over pretty much everything. If you tell her it’s time for lunch – she will not want to eat. If she does want to eat it is guaranteed that anything you suggest – other than candy – will not be what she wants. And don’t ever – whatever you do – suggest she wear a specific piece of clothing. It is 100% assured that that piece of clothing will now be the one she hates most in the world.
This day was no different. She wanted to ride her bike in the street and it seemed like it was going to end with her pitching a fit and me having to punish her… But I talked to her and explained, “Honey you can’t ride in the street because that’s where the cars drive. You are small and they might not see you. It would be terrible if you got hit by a car wouldn’t it?” To my surprise – that seemed to click with her – and she agreed to not go in the street! Awesome! Daddy 1, Avery still 3,987 … but hey, a win is a win!
So back to the prayer… after she finished – I asked her why she thanked God for sidewalks. She told me “because God gave us sidewalks so cars won’t hit us.” Here we were, the night after, and her brain had still be processing the street/car analogy. She believes all good things come from God and since sidewalks keep us from getting hit by cars… God gives us sidewalks.
It was a great reminder to me that I am not thankful enough, often enough, for God’s provision… for what God provides us… for what He blesses us with…
My kids don’t forget. They thank Him for stuff like pet rats and trees and ice cream and days at the park… and even sidewalks. I am way better at remembering to talk to Him when I am hurting or in need of something or stressed out… I need to get back to the basics and give thanks – always – for the good and the bad, the big and the small … to remember 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18… to remember to thank Him for life, for breath in my lungs, for an amazing family, a loving church, the greatest friends I could hope for, and sidewalks that help keep the lights of my life safe.
Jason Rehmel is the Lead Pastor at Eastside Christian Church on the east side of Cincinnati. If you are someone who has had a terrible experience(s) at a church or churches – stop by some weekend and give it one more shot with Eastside. Whether you have felt judged, or dismissed, or unwanted – wherever it has been – Eastside is different.