One Dad and Three Kids in a Minivan: Evidence of the Indwelling Spirit

The sliding door closed. Mom and kid #2 exited the van with excitement. Were they happy because of where they were headed, what they were leaving behind, or both? God knows. 

As we heard the latch click, kids #1, #3, #4 and I watched them leave from inside our cell (I mean minivan). 

Siblings in the back of a minivan can be like marriages in an Ikea: sanctifying. 

The social experiment begins. 

The test for the husband left in the car: will I be frustrated at my wife for taking too long, my kids for fighting, myself for losing it, or all of the above?

The test for the oldest child: are the consequences I will suffer worth the destruction of my annoying younger siblings?

The test for the younger two siblings: How much fun can we have in this car till mom comes back? 

In the back, #3 and #4 quickly turned into their own version of Bluey and Bandit (the two imaginative pups in Bluey). Their creativity grew louder and louder; by the sounds of it, #3 and #4 were nurturing a fox family in neverland. Meanwhile, me and #1 were making ourselves comfortable in Chrysler’s best effort for large families circa ’09. #1 made his disgust with his sisters’ shenanigans known with an exaggerated exhale. Anticipating how this would play out, I invited #1 to climb in the front with me to create a larger line of demarcation. 

No good soldier likes to retreat to keep the peace, but he obliged. 

Then surprising shrieks of #3 and #4 hit us. Was that feedback from a microphone or little girls in an enclosed van?  To me it was loud, to kid #1 it was as if he had just suffered a flashbang causing vision loss and temporary deafness. 1

After the ringing had stopped, and he checked his ears for blood, I could tell my oldest was waiting for my response. His border had been crossed, his wall had been breached, his morals had been violated; If I didn’t do something quick, proportional warfare was about to commence. Like Eisenhower trying to hold back Patton, I calmly placed my hand on his arm and said, “don’t worry about them…” and tried to change the subject. 

Flabbergasted, #1 said, “How can you allow this!?!?” 

(Pause, for scene description) 

Kid #1 reacting to great injustice. 

Kid #3 and #4, giggling rascals on the bench seat of a Chrysler Town and Country. 

And me, dad, thinking of the greater injustice: “where is their mother?!” 


Suffice it to say we all survived. After successfully changing the subject, I started the car and drove in circles around the parking lot, admiring the 70’s best attempt at modern architecture in our local public library. Car movement brought about enough distraction until mom and kid #2 came back out front. 

When mom came out and saw her seat now taken by the oldest, she gave me an understanding smile and climbed into the middle seat without acknowledging the change. Grace. She turned in her seat to show the younger two all the exciting books she got from the library. #1 and I started talking about one of his interests as we headed home.

If you have kids, you know this scene. You’ve lived it. And you will live it again.

So, why am I sharing it with you? Because in this little mundane episode I see the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit on full display.

Why wasn’t I frustrated with #3 and #4 for their foolishness and loud noises? Why wasn’t I upset with #1 for getting so angry with #3 and #4? Why wasn’t I annoyed with my wife for how long she was in the library?

God knows I have been guilty of all these things. The only explanation is the grace of God in the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.

 When we find ourselves loving our kids well, we are not filled with pride, we are left with praise. 

 Thanks be to God for his indwelling Holy Spirit. 

Paul writes in Romans 8, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised you Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” The indwelling Spirit is always at work, giving life to our mortal bodies, leading us in holiness and obedience to love those around us as Christ has loved us. While I was in the minivan I did not see the Spirit at work. I saw the effects of the Spirit upon reflection.  

Parenting is hysterical and the Spirit of God is life-giving.

The indwelling Spirit is the reason we act with the love of Christ, and he is the reason we are convicted when we do not act with the love of Christ. 

Within us dwells the Spirit of God, the God who does not treat us as we deserve, nor repay us according to our sins. If the Spirit of God lives in you, you can be sure that the grace of God is present in your family. Even on your worst day you have hope because the life-giving Spirit of God is within. 

Be encouraged, mom and dad. No matter what, God is with you in the minivan.  

Join us in Dallas October 24-26 for gospel-centered parenting workshops!

  1.  Of all the thought I’ve given to family discipleship I’ve failed to instill two important life skills in all my children: never clap or scream in a closed car with all the windows raised.

Joey is married to Jenny (his high school sweetheart) and is a father to four amazing kids. He serves as the Pastor of Missions and Adult Ministries at Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek, OH. Prior to his current role Joey was a Student Ministry Pastor for 9 years. He is a graduate of Cedarville University, has a Master of Arts in Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and is currently working towards in M.Div. through Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, FL.

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