by Jennie McKay

My Tiny Teacher

Since I became a “mommy” a little over three years ago, I’ve noticed how God has used my son so often to shape me spiritually. Like so many new moms, I went into parenting thinking that, simply speaking, I would be the teacher, and Liam would be the learner. I was excited for that role, so I geared up by seeking wise counsel, reading books, and learning all that I could about effectively developing a man-child. What I was unprepared for was the number of times I would become the learner as the Spirit of God used my son to be my “tiny teacher.”

It hit me especially hard the morning Liam said his first word, “dada.” Will and I were thrilled (Will especially!) that not only was he saying his first word, but he was also associating it with whom he knew it to belong. Every morning as soon as he woke up, he called out, first softly, then louder and more rhythmically, “Dada…Dada” Will would quickly answer, lift him out of his crib, and talk with him as he changed his first diaper of the day. Soon after that first word was uttered and Liam associated the response with his request, he started calling out at night before he went to sleep, and then any other time he wanted a little more attention.

Not long after this new rhythm emerged, I began to think. Is this not the most reasonable cry to the most obvious Person in our lives? Is this not a living picture of my soul’s deepest longing, expressed and directed toward the Only One who can satisfy? The most obvious rhythm in my own life should be the constant utterance from my heart, “Father,” to begin the day, to end it, and everywhere in between.

All over Scripture, we’re encouraged to call out to God, our Father:

  • “O LORD, God of my salvation; I cry out day and night before you. Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!” (Psalm 88:1,2); He stoops down to hear our cries, and is never unavailable.
  • “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear Him; He also hears their cry and saves them” (Psalm 145:18,19); He is not repulsed by our being high-maintenance, but draws near with saving power to those who call upon him (also James 4:8a). As our Father, He hears our every cry and knows just how to answer.
  • “In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me” (Psalm 120:1). In the midst of exhaustion, frustration, confusion, or anxiety, my response has not always been to call out first to the Lord. My flesh seeks out advice from other sources, deceiving me that their answers would be superior or speedier; what I need most is the Source Himself. Remember, your Heavenly Father wants to spend time with you and to commune with you. “Casting your anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
  • “When you pray, say: ‘Father…’ If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:2,11). Jesus Himself tells us to pray to our Father, who is even more willing to give to us than we are to our own children.

God used the cries of a little boy for his father to teach me about the regularity, intensity, and necessity of crying out to my Heavenly Father.

Gary Thomas writes about learning from our children in his book, Sacred Parenting. Think on these words:

“We live in the midst of tiny teachers (where I got the idea for the title of this post). Sometimes they spit up on themselves or on us. Sometimes they throw tantrums. Sometimes they cuddle us and kiss us and love us. In the good and the bad they mold our hearts, shape our souls, and invite us to experience God in newer and deeper ways.”

I’m grateful that the Lord has used (so often) my little Liam to teach me more about Himself. I see now that, yes, God is using me to help shape Liam to be the man he can become…but also, that my Father is using Liam to help shape me to become the woman I can be.

What is God teaching you about Himself through your own “tiny teachers”?

Jennie McKay


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