"Even a child is known by his doings!"
The twenty-eight second graders quoted the Proverb clearly and in unison.
I was working as a teacher's assistant during my senior year of high school. Part of my job (at the Christian school I attended) was to help the students rehearse their "alphabet memory verses." When we got to the letter E, this was the scripture they would recite.
Oddly enough, I don't remember the others; but this one stuck with me. I guess it's because the children were so wide-eyed and sincere. As the "mature" senior, I often smiled at their intensity. But the truth of the Proverb etched itself into my heart.
When I became a mom, I had my own children memorize Proverbs 20:11. "People will determine who you are by the way you behave," I explained. "Your choices are important. For even a child.... The things you do when you think no one is watching can affect your future."
The scripture re-surfaced, for me, in a big way Meagan's senior year of college.
That's when she declared that Nathan Smith was the only fella she had ever really cared for. (They had dated briefly in high school but found a long distance relationship too hard to maintain once she went away to college.)
Her first three years were full with classes, tour teams, and friends. But none of the "guy friends" who asked her out ever measured up to Nathan, she often told me.
So we waited.
While praying for Meagan one day during that senior year, I was reminded of a story Nathan's mom once told me. (Becky Smith of Smithellaneous fame. We've been family friends with the Smiths for many years.)
Their daughter, Sarah, was diagnosed with cancer at age six and given only a twenty per cent chance of survival. Thankfully, the diagnosis was incorrect for her. She just graduated from high school with honors!
Those were dark days. And we tried to check on our friends often; phone calls, cards and even visits when we were scheduled near them. During one visit, I asked Becky how Nathan (little more than a child himself) was handling all the struggle.
"He's doing such a great job being a big brother," she said. And then told me this story.
"Last week, Sarah and I were able to be home for a few days. I woke up one morning absolutely panicked. The exhaustion had hit me and I slept through one of Sarah's night-time doses of medicine. When I came running in to check on her, she was just fine. Nathan had gotten up with her in the middle of the night because she was throwing up. After he helped her get settled back in bed, he realized it was time for her medicine. He had watched me so much that he knew exactly how to administer the precise dosage needed. I thanked him and started to flush the IV line - a critical part of the process. He stopped me, saying there was no need. He had taken care of that, too!"
We both swiped at a couple of stray tears; shaking our heads that one so young would choose to behave so responsibly. Most kids would have gone back to sleep or gone up to get mom. Nathan knew his mom desperately needed to rest and this was one episode he could handle for her.
Fast forward almost ten years. I'm aware that my daughter, now grown, is considering this Nathan Smith fella as life-time material. And I find myself wondering if they will truly be a good match.
The Lord so gently brought back the story and the scripture at the same time. "Even a child is known by his doings." Quiet peace swept over my heart.
This past week, Nathan turned twenty-five.
Now he's the daddy with a fine son who brings sunshine everywhere he toddles! Meagan and Nathan celebrated their third wedding anniversary this summer. His care for his wife, his attention to her needs, his protective nature over his little family are all matters for gratitude as far as this mama is concerned.
I'm grateful to know that all our "sons" (John and Cody, too) made choices as children that set them on a good path. And they had mamas that helped correct their not-so-good choices in order to keep them on a good path.
If you're called on today to give correction to a little one. Don't despair. Bravely remind them, "I'm helping you with your choices because, 'Even a child is known by his doings!' "