My daughter Brianna was my second child and what many would label as our “strong-willed child.” If I asked her to move left, she would move right. When asked to sit down, she would stand up. Don’t even attempt to silence her because she would get louder and louder just to make sure that it was her will that was accomplished and not yours. I could request she sit down until I was blue in the face, only to have her finally sit and look up at me with that look of, “I’m still standing on the inside.”
Bedtime had it’s own challenges. Regardless of how early or late Brianna would go to bed, she still had a few more hours of energy to burn off. She would lay in bed and just recap her day to herself. When I say to herself, I really mean “out-loud” to herself. She would finish discussions from earlier in the day, answer questions, win arguments, complain about siblings, plan for the next day, talk about anything and everything except sleep. Most importantly though, she would sing!
She would lay in bed and start off singing a few children’s songs she knew, then onto making up her own songs, but finally she would get to the songs I loved the most, worship songs. Brianna had an incredible knack at a very young age of memorizing songs. Of course nursery songs and stories were pretty easy to learn with repetition. Learning the French tune, “Ah, vous dirai-je, maman” Mozart later used in his “Twelve Variations on “Ah, vous-dirai-je, maman,” made learning “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star,” “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and the “Alphabet Song,” really easy. But that’s not what I’m talking about. Brianna would sing entire songs from beginning to end, every chorus, every bridge, every measure as if she had written them herself. Sing she would, but not quietly in the darkness of her bedroom, but loud as if she were performing before hundreds possibly thousands. Without a microphone! She owned the stage located at the top of her bunk beds much to the annoyance of her younger sister who just wanted her to stop singing so she could go to sleep.
Leading the congregation is what she had mastered. Although her sister was the only one in attendance and very disgruntled with her leader, I know there was an even greater audience present in this sanctuary called her bedroom. God and a multitude of angels surely showed up for every worship service she led. The entire house would already be slipping into a slumber while she invited the one she knew would faithfully come into her personal worship and song service. “He’ll show up,” she once said. “He always does.” He’s like that you know. He created us to worship Him and he inhabits our praise. As a matter of fact, we were designed to fulfill his eternal plan and to love our neighbor along with loving Him. I learned many years ago that worship gets God’s attention. Obviously, Brianna had tapped into this as well. Brianna would invite the congregation into the service by asking them to repeat after her, “This is the day that the Lord has made.” “I will rejoice and be glad in Him.” Then she would break out into song as if they had all followed her instructions and had joined her in this ministry moment.
How do you discourage that kind of behavior in a child? Why would you? I would remind her that she needed to sleep and that she would need to finish her singing so that her little sister could get some sleep as well. She would always tell me, “I’ve got just one more song Daddy!” So one more song it was. Brianna is grown and married now. I don’t know if she has only one more song to sing every night, nor do I know if her husband has to ask her to stop singing so he can sleep. But I do know that I cherish those moments during her childhood that she taught me to follow her into worship with a childlike faith. She would fall asleep in the arms of her heavenly father leading the congregation well beyond bedtime. And myself? Well, I would soak in the afterglow from another room knowing she was planting seeds for the future and probably doing more spiritual battle from her bed than many do on their knees.