Once upon a time there was a family with a houseful of children. The family tried to be sure to always do family devotions before bed time. The parents wanted their children to grow up with a love for God and his word, and to know how to live and how to pray and how to seek God's will for their own lives. Sometimes family devotions consisted of a quick reading and perfunctory prayer (and maybe some moments of frustration at playful children) led by a worn out daddy, and a mama with miles to go before she could sleep. The parents would then rush the children off to bed, hug them, kiss them, shush them, answer questions that didn't really need to be answered until tomorrow, kiss them again, and move on to whatever work needed to be done before the night was over.
One night, the daddy left shortly before bedtime to meet with a group of men for Bible study and the mama was left to tackle the goodnights alone. Tired, but wanting to end the evening feeling like a good mother, she gathered the little ones for a story and prayer. The biggest kid had to be told to stop counting the money in his wallet, the middle boy had to be asked to cease rolling around like a spastic pillbug, the middle girl needed numerous reminders to keep her feet (which her mama had forgotten to tell her to clean) off the walls, and the youngest boy received several threats of "straight to bed" before finally agreeing to stop pushing buttons on the noisy toy he had dug out of the bottom of the toy box just for this occasion.
The mama trugded through the story the asked what the children wanted to pray about, which by now she nearly knew by heart since they rarely wavered from their favorite requests. She once again reminded the biggest girl that God is not a fairy or a star and we do not "wish" upon Him, and listened as the 4 eldest children prayed. Between all the "close your eyes", "stop kicking your brother", "let's try not to giggle when Ezra makes that sound with his body", and "remember we're talking to the almighty GOD here, people".....that almighty God's voice broke through and the mama heard Him..... "This is the night I want you to talk with the children about baptism and the condition of their hearts".
And the mama was tired, but she did it anyway.
And her heart was blessed into a million tiny little pieces as her middle son talked about how much he loved Jesus and wanted to be baptized. He told that mama that he wanted to give God his life. And that he was pretty sure God was telling him in his heart that he was supposed to become a missionary, even though he was afraid of the "presecution".
The mama smiled as her middle daughter told her that she has told God over and over that she wants Jesus to be her savior.
Tears shone in the mama's eyes as her eldest son shared with his brothers and sisters about when he asked Jesus into his heart. He recalled every detail from where he was sitting, to what he was eating, to what he was wearing, and exactly what he said to God. That biggest boy was overcome with excitment as he explained the "joy" and "trembling" he felt in his heart when the Holy Spirit came. The mama giggled when he told her that he was "seeking a clear vision from God" on whether he's supposed to be a "creation scientist or a rock star".
Then, as with every night, the children were sent to bed, hugged, kissed, shushed, answered, and kissed again.
And as the mama walked slowly down the stairs she realized that she had not been the one leading the family devotion that night.
God had shown up, and through her children had blessed her with the most beautiful bedtime story a mama could ever hear.