Tony and the Shield

This was the first summer that Tony, age 5, spent more than a week with his Grandpa and me.  Tony has quite the imagination and he’s afraid of the dark, so I thought he was being pretty brave.

We have a standard thing in our house that there are no monsters because Grandpa does not allow monsters.  That has worked for several years, ever since RJ started coming to visit.

But then there’s Tony, who said, very seriously, “But Grandma, Grandpa can’t do anything about ghosts.  They go through things!”

Sigh.

He went on to tell me that he stays awake, even at his house,  because he’s afraid something is going to come into his room.  Speaking as the grandma/young girl who slept with her back to the wall so she could keep track of the wicked witch in her dreams, I knew we needed to do something.’

So I said, “Well, we could pray…”

You have to understand that Tony has not been the most cooperative boy about prayers, and it’s not just with me.  The son reports that he has turned away and put his blanket over his head at home instead of praying a night-time prayer, so I really wasn’t sure how he would react.

This is what he did.

He grabbed my hand as tight as he could and he  said, “Jesus, put a shield around me.”  His other hand held his blanket.  Tight.

Then he said, “You finish.”

His little hand was so tight in mine.  I don’t know what he was scared of, but I do know that he was scared.

So I prayed, “Jesus, please put your angels to the top of Tony and to the bottom, to the left and to the right, so they can protect him from anything that could hurt him.  And help him to have faith in you and grow up into the man of God that You want him to be.”

His grip on my hand relaxed, and he wanted, then, to go ahead and say his standard night-time prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”  You know the one.  He reminded me twice that when we got to the “God blesses” at the end, he did not want Tony to be blessed last.  Then, thumb in mouth and blanket in hand, he fell asleep, secure in the knowledge of his shield.

There’s a sort of super-hero quality, I think, in the way that kids think about their Saviour,at this point in my grandsons’ lives.  Truth of the matter is, Jesus can take care of anything that comes Tony’s way to scare him.  Jesus is a Super-Hero, having defeated death and the devil.  He’s better than Superman (and certainly Ghostbusters) at taking us under His wings and keeping us safe.  Maybe they’ve got it right.

And as I watched Tony, who faces a world vastly different from the one in which his father grew up, I decided that maybe I should pray for his shield every night, whether he’s with me or not.  “Cuz he needs it.  And in all honesty, I have been praying that he is healthy and happy and comes to know the Lord, but I didn’t know until this summer that, at the tender age of 5, how much he needed a shield.

So I’m praying.  For Tony.  And his brother.  And my sister’s kids.  And my nephew’s kids.  For Jesus to put a shield around them until they are ready to take it up on their own.  I don’t know.  Since Tony asked for the shield himself, maybe he’s already ready.

…take up the shield of faith,with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

–Ephesians 6:16

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