No, I’m not dispensing advice today, but asking for a little. I’m hoping to lean on some of the wisdom of you who have been doing this longer than me. Here is my situation.
Titus is four and a half years old and he’s really into construction machinery. He loves his backhoes, rollers, mixers and tractors. A few months ago, he took several of his excavators to the park to play and accidentally left his toy grader at the park. He mentioned it when he got home, but I don’t think Sara or I really understood what he was saying. Several days passed before we realized that his grader really was missing. He would bring it up every now and again and with all the excitement of Christmas, I think we expected to have heard the last of the grader.
Then about a week ago, we started talking to Titus about how God wants to help us and when we need help, we simply need to ask him. Almost immediately, Titus responds with, “Will he help me find my grader?” Ever since, Titus prays for his grader every day, asking God to help him bring his grader home. Now Titus loves his toys like any other four year old, but I don’t sense this is about a materialistic frenzy of a boy who just wants more and more toys. I truly think he’s just still sad about the loss of a toy he really loved.
Sara and I have encouraged him to continue to ask God to bring him his grader, but we’re in a bit of a debacle on what to do next. First of all, we know that nothing is too big for God and if he wants to bring this actual grader back into his life, he can do it. I know that God doesn’t need my help in the matter and that it would be wrong of us to go buy the identical grader and give it to Titus and say, “Look, God answered your prayers.” However, Sara and I have been talking about getting him a new grader and simply explaining that God answers prayers in many different ways, sometimes using other people to provide the answer or a form of answer. Titus loses toys from time to time and rarely do we feel a need to replace them… what four year old needs more toys? But as a mom and dad, we recognize how much it would please Titus to have another grader.
So, what do you think? How would you navigate this situation? Probably not a matter of right or wrong here, but more of a “how do you help shape faith” question. Thanks for your comments on this one.
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Like you said, this isn’t a right or wrong situation and no one knows Titus as well as you and your wife…there’s a few things that popped into my mind while I was reading:
Yes, God could bring the grader back – but I that’s not extremely likely.
The second thought is that you could begin sharing this with others and perhaps through the power of community someone would give him a new one…but that seems a bit manipulative.
So, I think I would probably land in the camp of getting him a new one. Depending on the level of responsibility that you feel for not helping him keep track of it and not understanding him when you got home, I may also use this as an opportunity to share not only the ways that God answers prayers but in how we need to take responsibility for our mistakes – especially when we discover that what seemed like an innocent slip actually caused the other some turmoil. (no guilt trip intended here)
BTW, my son has loved trucks since he was about 2 and he’s gong to be six this year and it’s just as strong as ever so I hope that, if you do get another grader, that it’s something that will be played with for many more years.
Having a son the same age, I totally know what you’re going thru. Carter (our four and a half year old) takes praying very seriously – we were watching Wipeout last week and he made me pause it so that he could pray for one of the people that got whacked in the face. Afterwards, he asked if we could send them a phone message (text) to see if they were all better. Preschoolers believe that God answers prayer and they often want to see the results of their prayers. It’s kind of a hard-wired thing.
I think that you and Sara know your son best – if you feel God’s prompting to buy Titus a new grader, who’s to say that isn’t an answer to his prayers? Afterwards, I think it’s totally appropriate to have the talk about all of the different ways God answers prayer.
I’m sure that you can think back to times when God used people in your life to answer prayers that you’ve had – and now is a great time to a) share one of those stories with Titus and b) send a quick note to someone who’s helped answer a prayer in your life to say thanks.
So… those are my thoughts.
Looking forward to hearing about how this one goes!
I have no idea. So I can’t help you at all 🙂
Great questions though.
How does the conversation about this situation look when he’s an older teenager?
God is a rewarder of those who seek him here’s your chance to bless him for trusting God. Just like his heavenly Father. I’d love to buy him a new grader. Go buy him what he wants and send Uncle Bro Jim the bill.
Brother Jim, that’s honestly one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.
Thank you all for your words of wisdom and encouragement. Yes, I felt like this whole thing is a great “learning” moment. We’re so proud and touched by how Titus is asking God for his grader and trusting that God can provide. Thanks Brother Jim, we’re going to pick one up… thanks for being a great Uncle Brother Jim to my boy, it sure means a lot to Sara and I!
Tell your wife Roll Tide for me! I’m looking forward to watch Titus become a mighty man of God like his dad. I love your family Looking forward to you coming to stay with me in February!
Given his age and limited ability to understand how God works, I think it is important to teach God’s grace. Perhaps if you offered to let him do a small chore in exchange for buying him a new truck he could learn that God gives us opportunities to help ourselves…that in prayer God offers us a chance for a “do over”.