Jesus overpowered a cruel, and merciless enemy. This adversary was a big, bad monster made from snow. That is what my soon to be 5-year old son Matthew James told me recently.
The conversation was more like, “Daddy, Jesus protected me from a big scary snow monster!” The grin on his face told me Immanuel was my son’s hero.
Jesus and the Snow Monster
Not long ago Matthew woke up in the early morning hours screaming. My wife Jen rushed to find her frightened little boy shaking and crying. He endured a nasty nightmare, a vicious attack on him and the well-being of his rubber duck. Here is how the interaction went down:
Matthew - “Mommy, the snow monster is trying to eat me and my ducky!”
Jen - Holding him, “Oh honey, this is scary! Do you remember the time Jesus helped you when you woke up after another nightmare, when Jesus put the “bad guys” in a bucket, then threw them over the fence?”
Matthew - Leaning in, “Yes.”
Jen - Stroking his back, “Why don’t you ask Jesus what you need to know about this scary dream?”
Matthew - Within ten seconds, “Jesus said that He is going to put the snow monster in a bucket and throw him over the fence too! But, Jesus needs an extra big bucket because this snow monster is big!”
Jen - Smiling and feeling his body relax, “Wow! That is really neat, Matthew. Is there anything else Jesus wants you to know?”
Matthew - “Jesus says He is building a really big wall around my room so the snow monster can’t get in!”
Jen - Observing Matthew relax, yet sensing there is still more asks, “Why don’t you ask if Jesus wants to tell you anything else?”
Matthew - Excited, “I heard him! Yes! Jesus says He is going to build a big wall around Andrew’s room too, so that Andrew won’t be scared.” [Andrew is Matthew’s 3-year old brother.]
At this point, Jen asks to see if Matthew is still afraid and he responds, “No, I feel better” then lays down and falls asleep withoperut any more incidents. Normally, after such a scary situation, Matthew would have demanded Jen stay and sleep in his bed, or requested to sleep in our bed. He felt peaceful.
During breakfast, I checked in with Matthew about his dream. He enthusiastically tells me, “Jesus has a really big hammer and a really big saw to build stuff!” referring to the wall of safety Jesus was building around Matthew and Andrew’s room.
Although this was a bad dream, the emotions were real. Matthew’s little heart was fiercely pounding. His breathing was shallow; his body was noticeably tense. The “bad guy” was not Frosty the smiling snowman. This enemy was a big, scary snow monster. The awareness of Jesus was a game-changer for Matthew. Once he felt he was safe because Jesus was with him, he could breathe and rest
Immanuel Interactions for Grownups
Not every interaction goes this smoothly, but practice goes a long way to developing Immanuel interactions as a way of life. It helped that Jen validated and comforted Matthew as she led him through a two minute Immanuel moment. Jen first reminded him of a previous time when Matthew was aware that Jesus saved the day by throwing the “bad guys” into a bucket and tossing them away in the bold manner of Psalm 18*,
“He reached down from high and took hold of me...” (v. 16)
“He rescued me from my powerful enemy...” (v. 17)
“You made my enemies turn their backs in flight...” (v. 40)
“You have delivered me…” (v. 43)
Personally, I believe this 4-year old is learning about spiritual warfare but more importantly, that Jesus is a real resource and is with us for the good and the bad, scary moments. We call this the Immanuel Lifestyle, and Jesus is creatively demonstrating His presence and authority in the language a 4-year old would understand.
My son’s example is one reason I coauthored the Share Immanuel booklet with Dr. Jim Wilder and why I am part of the team hosting The Immanuel Life: Sustaining Joyful Relationships for a Lifetime April 9-11 in Chicago, Illinois. A team of top-notch leaders will be on hand to share their wisdom and experience to train people how to sustain joyful relationships for a lifetime.
We never have to lie in bed fretting and worrying when we can interact with the Living God who specializes in quieting our fears and conquering our foes - even scary snow monsters.