What Riley Bree Taught Me

To Timothy, my true child in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
— 1 Timothy 1:2 ESV

“Pops, can you tuck me in?”

The request came from Riley Bree, one of our grandloves; a wisp of a child, a tornado of energy, and a bundle of delight. Shannan and I were enjoying a few days with this part of our tribe when her daddy announced “bedtime” and Riley made her request.

I wasn’t turning that down.

Riley and I climbed the stairs to her room. Her little bed lies under the canopy of a cute teepee. I crawled in next to her, tucked her in, prayed over her and then came a most unusual request:

Pops, can you sing me a Christmas song?

I didn’t see that coming!

It was the latter days of June. There was no manger in sight. Santa and his sleigh were long gone. This is not a family that keeps Christmas lights strung throughout the year. But there I was, lying down next to this little sweetheart so I sang a Christmas song — that night and the next night too.

Looking back, I realized I never would have known Riley likes Christmas songs at bedtime had I not taken the time to climb those stairs, crawl in that tent, tuck her in, and listen. But isn’t that life?

It’s in the slowing that we get the knowing.

For all his constant motion, the Apostle Paul, illustrates this well. He calls Timothy his “true child in the faith.” No doubt, Paul led Timothy to faith in Christ, but he also spent the kind of time with his young protege to really know him. That’s why Paul could write such personal admonitions as:

  • “I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.” 2 Timothy 1:4

  • “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.” 2 Timothy 1:5

  • “Do not neglect the gift you have.” 1 Timothy 4:14

  • “I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” 2 Timothy 1:6

  • “No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.” 1 Timothy 5:23

  • “O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you.” 1 Timothy 6:20

Paul could get personal because he had “spent time under the teepee.” He knew Timothy’s face, but even more he knew Timothy’s family, his faith, his faults, and his fears.

It’s in the slowing that we get the knowing.

Riley taught me this. Paul shows me this. I want to live this!