I came downstairs and walked into the kitchen shaking my head. Jenny and I exchanged a look, and I simply said “it’s not good”. We had just finished what felt like an epic battle, and even though we had “won” our son’s obedience, it was obvious that his heart was not in a good spot. During the course of our “exchange” he had said things like “I don’t believe you love me, I’m a horrible person, my heart will never change…,” etc. We had come back at him guns-a-blazin’ with the truth of our love for him and his identity and worth, but in the end, we walked out of the room only having achieved his obedience, and it seemed like his heart was further from us than when the confrontation had started. It was also obvious that the truths we were speaking hadn’t made it much further than the ears on the side of his head, while the lies of the enemy had somehow managed to hunker down firmly inside his heart.
I breathed out a prayer for God’s Spirit to give us some wisdom, but I felt that the chances of any breakthrough that night were pretty slim. God dropped a picture into my mind at that moment of my son and I going for a drive. It was already late and past his bedtime, but I didn’t want him going to sleep that night wrapped up in ugly lies and pain. I walked up to his room and said, “Nolan, why don’t you get your clothes on, we’re going for a ride!” The poor guy wasn’t sure what was happening and I had no idea where we were going, but we just started driving.
I needed some gas, but the gas station didn’t seem like a good conversation spot, so I detoured to an outdoor shopping center that had some benches. We walked a little ways with him still wondering what was going on, but holding on to my hand tightly nonetheless. Finally I spotted a good bench and we sat down. After a couple of minutes I started talking to him about some stones that were nearby. I said, “Nolan, how long do you think those rocks will be around? How long would a building stand if it was made out of those? How about if it was made out of wood, or straw? “And all of a sudden, there we were having a normal conversation again, and the impenetrable fence he had put up just a short while earlier was nowhere to be seen.
We eventually talked through what had gone wrong earlier and I used my spur of the moment “rock/wood/straw” illustration to help him wrap his head around how we were trying to build him into someone strong who could withstand the pressures of life, not someone weak who wouldn’t be able to stand up to the world that we’d launch him into one day. Our heart connection was restored, and by the time we headed home, he knew he was a much loved and valued son. A simple trip in the dark and a conversation on the bench had opened up the window to his soul, and the truth we had been working so hard to convince him of earlier now dropped effortlessly into his spirit, leaving no more room for the lies of the enemy.
One of the most fascinating things about Jesus’ ministry is the way he revealed truth to the people he encountered. He took Peter, James and John on a fishing trip and by the time it was over, the boats were overflowing with fish, Peter was on his knees confessing his sins, and the three of them left their boats to follow Jesus on a three year ministry journey (Luke 5). When he met Nathaniel who doubted “any good thing” could come from Nazareth, he simply said “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree” and Nathaniel’s doubt changed in an instant to him declaring “You are the Son of God!” (John 1:48). When he went to Samaria, he didn’t start preaching and healing in the city square, instead he stopped outside the city and asked the woman at the well to give him a drink. He started a conversation with her, and by the end of the day, the whole town was seeking out the man who had “told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:29) After betraying Christ, Peter decided to throw in the towel on ministry and go back to fishing. Then a man appears on the shore and tells the disciples to throw the net on the right side of the boat. When the net miraculously fills up with fish and John cries out “It is the Lord!” Peter realizes what is happening, drops everything, jumps in the water to get to Jesus, and never looks back.
In each of these examples, a “window to the soul” was opened that allowed truth to become revelation. Significant change happened, and it wasn’t because of the logic of an airtight argument, or the wisdom of a polished sermon. As parents, a lot of times it doesn’t matter how right we are, or how illogical our child’s behavior is, the only way we are going to see transformation is through a “window to the soul” moment. Sometimes these moments occur when a child is in a moment of vulnerability, or has experienced pain. Sometimes it is when we are tucking them in and all the distractions of the day are quiet. Sometimes we need to be intentional about taking our child on a “journey” and intentionally making space for this window to open up. You can never force this window open. There is no “one method” to open the window (Jesus always seemed to take different approaches with everyone he met). But the reward of seeking these moments out and partnering with the Holy Spirit to bring our children, our spouses, or the people we are in relationship with to “open window” moments can never be underestimated.
Father, thank you that You are the one who “searches our hearts” (Rom 8:27) and prepares its soil to receive Your truth. I pray that you would give me the wisdom, opportunities, and methods to lead the people you have placed in my life to “open window” moments where I can speak Your truth into their souls. Give me the boldness to walk beyond the ordinary, and when it matters most, help me to venture with You into the unchartered territory of the soul, where Your revelation will bring life transformation.