Our devotion times with the children began a process of reading through the Bible that continued up until Anna’s death and will hopefully continue on alone with Samuel. Before Anna died, we had read through the Old Testament and the New Testament up through Philippians. I find it interesting that in one of Anna’s last family devotions she read with us, “To live is Christ; to die is gain.” Anna was already convinced of that truth before reading it in Paul. It had become a commonplace in her speech and I think became an imprint on her thinking. She was well-convinced that living with Jesus in heaven would be better by far than life on this earth.
That truth did not take away her fear of dying. She would often call to us at night to say she was afraid. Usually she was afraid of someone coming into her room, and towards the end she was specifically afraid of being shot by a robber. I tried to convince her that that was highly unlikely, especially in Indonesia where nobody owns guns.
We had a song that we would sing together, “When I am afraid I will trust in You.” I told her that it is okay to be afraid, but when you are, you ought to trust in God. She also had Bible verses printed on laminated sheets hanging on her wall. She would read those verses when she was afraid.
Not too long ago at bedtime I went in to pray with the kids. At those times I would pray for them, tuck them in, and kiss them good night. On this particular night I felt convicted that I was not teaching them how to pray themselves, so I asked each to pray. I was in Sam’s room first. When I asked him to pray he got upset and said no. But finally, after some coaxing on my part, he muttered a quick prayer and turned over to go to sleep. Contented that I had taught him well, I moved on to Anna’s room. I sat down on her bed and repeated my reqeust that she pray herself. She said that she couldn’t pray out loud and didn’t want to pray that night. I told her that she would pray, that I knew she could prayer since I had heard her before, and that I would wait as long as it took. She began to cry and insist that she didn’t know what to say. I decided that I was going to die on this hill, so I dug in my heels and insisted that she pray. When she continued in her refusal, I finally stormed out of the room, saying, “Fine, tuck yourself in!” I was not happy with the result, but convinced that I had done the right thing.
I lay down in bed and grabbed a book to read. Hearing Anna’s cries from across the house, Timberley asked me, “So what happened?”
“She’s being stubborn and rebellious,” I said. “She knows perfectly well how to pray, but insists that she doesn’t. I’m sick of listening to it.”
Timberley told me to relax and quietly got up and left the room. About ten minutes later Anna came in and sheepishly approached my bedside. “Daddy, I’m sorry that I cried and that I wouldn’t pray with you,” she began. She had a truly penitent face and I could tell she was sorry for what she had done. Then she continued, “The reason I didn’t want to pray out loud with you is that my prayer time with God is so personal, and I say things to God that I don’t want other people to hear. That is whay I said that I didn’t know what to pray.” She gave me a big hug.
I felt like I was about three inches tall, but I managed to choke out, “Well, okay then, I forgive you. Now get on to bed.” And I gave her a dismissive wave of the hand.
“I love you, Daddy,” she said as she hugged me again.