The first movie I can remember seeing in a theater is The Amityville Horror. It’s a delightful tale of a family that moves into a house that talks to them. I couldn’t have been more than four when I saw it. I have no idea how my mother let that one slip by.
“Mom, can we see Star Wars?”
“No. Somebody said something about it being new age. Let’s try this movie about a family that buys a house that talks to them. Come on kids!”
Needless to say, that movie really messed with me. I had nightmares for years. I dreaded going to bed. Sleep was a chore that I never could really complete. That’s not a good place for anyone, especially a kid.
Eventually, my mom gave me some good advice. She told me to put my Bible under my pillow when I went to bed at night. Her point wasn’t that there were magical powers in my Bible. It was just her way of helping me to remember that Jesus was with me.
A little while later, after the dreams had stopped, I told a relative about the Bible under my pillow. The relative scoffed.
“Well that’s silly. Now you’re going to have to carry your Bible with you wherever you go.”
I think that was what my mother was going for all along. It worked.
Years passed. I was in a 9th grade math class, scared to death and wondering why the numbers were being replaced with letters. Everyday I worried about failing math. And then I remembered what my mother taught me about the Bible.
So the next day I brought a pillow into class, put my Bible under it and fell asleep in the floor. My teacher didn’t get it.
Actually I just brought in one verse, written on my math notebook. And no pillow.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43:2
That verse didn’t help me with understanding how to find x. But it did help me to remember the goodness and presence of Jesus. By the end of the year I had Isaiah 43:2 memorized. Sadly, that never was a question on a math test.
Now that I’m grown up, I don’t have very many bad dreams and I’m done with math class. But I still need God’s word. I’m not the type that can memorize huge portions of scripture. I have to write it down and carry it with me. This week I wrote down two new verses on a piece of paper. I couldn’t help but look back, almost four decades ago, to the time that my mother taught me what it meant to hide God’s word in my heart.
I have two kids of my own now. Occasionally they have bad dreams. A few nights ago, in that weird state of being sort of asleep, I heard the sound of two small feet finding their way through the darkness and to the side of my bed.
“Dad, I had a bad dream.”
I never let my kids watch horror movies so it must be all of those Falcons games that are causing the trouble. Either way, I got up and walked my son back to his room. When I was helping him into bed I noticed something under his pillow.
It was a book.
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis.
A few nights before my wife told him about how I used to sleep with my Bible under my pillow. He couldn’t find his Bible so, in his mind, this was the next best thing.
Parents, our kids are paying attention. They are watching and listening to us. They are impacted by our mistakes. But God has a way of redeeming those mistakes. Like the times when he uses moms and dads to teach their frightened children what it means to hide God’s word in their hearts.
It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes. The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:71-72 (ESV)