Faith Like a Child

"Oh what a wonderful, wonderful day! Day I will never forget!"

I don't even know how to begin this post. The feeling that I have in my heart right now is so overwhelmingly beautiful, it seems impossible to put into words. I guess John said it best: "I have NO GREATER JOY than to hear that my children walk in truth." (3 John 1:4)

Last night, New Year's Eve 2009, our daughter Israel made her own decision and prayed her own prayer asking Jesus to be her Savior. My eyes well up just typing about it! My precious daughter is no longer simply growing up in a Christian home -- she herself is a Christian. She has put her pure, childlike faith in the man she's seen answered her prayers; the man we've read about and talked about since she was teeny tiny; the man she's seen work in our lives. She recognized that she has done wrong, and He is the only one who can make her clean and help her do right.

Here's how it happened (though I wasn't there. I was out with my sisters for New Years. How could I have missed it! This is what JP told me):

Recently and in the past, Rae has struggled with getting out of bed at night and during nap time. She knows she's not supposed to, but apparently the temptation is usually too much for her. Lately she's been getting out of bed and turning on the lights so she can play. When we catch her doing this, we discipline her and put her back to bed. Usually she'll try once or twice, and then she'll go to bed.

Yesterday's nap time was an especially trying one. Rae never fell asleep, and the entire nap time we went back and forth with her getting out of her bed over and over and over again. By the end, I had to stop disciplining her because I could feel myself getting frustrated, and we make it a point not to discipline out of anger or frustration. I brought her downstairs with me and had her sit and do quiet things until nap time was over.

She must have sensed my frustration (it was pretty hard to miss), and for the rest of the day it was obvious that she was carrying around a load of guilt for what she had done. She kept on bringing it up, talking about how she "did something bad" and "made the wrong choice" and "got out of bed." I heard her mention it several times after she woke up.

Later on, the girls and I met up with some friends for dinner and after that JP picked the girls up and took them home so I could spend some time with my sisters. He said that on the car ride home she told him about how she had done something bad and gotten out of bed.

That night after Ruby had gone to bed, Rae asked JP a question:

"Daddy, do you ever judge yourself?"

The question stopped JP in his tracks. Where on earth would she have even learned the term "judge?" That's pretty heavy topic for an almost three-year-old. Neither of us has ever talked to her about it. He asked her what she meant and she said, "It means when you do something bad. Do you ever do something bad, Daddy?"

JP told her that yes, of course he does bad things sometimes. Everybody does.

Rae said, "Me too. I did something bad. I got out of bed." Then she asked, "What do you do when you do something bad?"

At this point it was obvious to JP that Israel was struggling with the guilt she was carrying from her nap time experience. He explained to her that when he does something wrong, he asks Jesus to forgive him. Jesus is the only person in the world who never did anything wrong, and he's the only one who can forgive us, make us clean, and take our guilt away.

Rae accepted this answer and they finished off their night. JP tucked her into bed and prayed with her, letting her know that if she was feeling guilty, she could ask Jesus to forgive her and save her from her sin. He asked if she knew what sin was, and she didn't, so he explained that sin is what's inside all of us that makes us want to do things that are bad, like getting out of bed. He told her that when she was ready, she could pray to Jesus and ask him to be her Savior.

He kissed her goodnight and closed the door. Right away he remembered something sitting inside the room and he opened the door back up to find Rae already out of bed and attempting to turn on the light. Caught, red-handed!

He disciplined her and put her back in bed. One more time he explained to her that if she wanted to do right, she needed to ask Jesus to save her from her bad choices and take her guilt away.

**I should note at this point that we've talked to Rae about salvation in the past, but she never wanted to do it because when we told her she would "go to heaven," she thought that meant right away. She was afraid that if she prayed, she would have to leave us and go to heaven, and she didn't want to leave us. What a sweetie.**

"When you're ready, Sweetie, just let me know."

"I want to do it right now, Daddy."

"Are you sure? You don't have to do it now, Honey."

"Yes, Daddy, I want to do it right now."

JP said he even tried to talk her out of it, his own lack of faith preventing him from seeing (at first) that even at her young age, she really could understand her need for a Savior. After asking her a couple more times to explain what it meant/what was going to happen, and her doing so with clarity, he knew she "got it."

And right there, in her fuzzy little pink footie pajamas, laying her sweet curly head on her Dora pillowcase, my daughter gave her heart to Jesus. She asked him to forgive her and save her from having to do the wrong things. She invited Him into her heart. Faith like a child.

Obviously, Rae's understanding is simple. Her faith is simple. She just knows that Jesus is good and that He loves her enough to help her. As she grows, she'll continue to make mistakes and she'll always be able to go to Jesus to make things right again. Her faith will be tested, and her understanding of what Jesus really did will deepen. She may be like me and pray the salvation prayer many different times. Or maybe not. Maybe this one time will stick with her forever, and she'll always be secure in her place in God's family.

But even if her faith is simple, the God she invited into her heart is not. There is no such thing as a junior sized Holy Spirit. There's no mini-Jesus. The big, humongous God who lives in us is the same one living in her. His power is not minimized by her size or age.

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." I Tim 4:12

Maybe you are reading this and think, "Oh, that's cute, but she doesn't really understand. She's too small. She has a good heart, but she's not really 'saved'."

Trust me, when JP first told me the news, I thought the same thing. "Could she really understand? Is this really the day my daughter got saved?"

And this is what the Holy Spirit responded:

"But Jesus said, 'Suffer the little children, and forbid them not to come unto me; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.'" Matthew 19:14

That word "suffer" means "do not hinder" or "allow." Imagine if we had convinced Rae she wasn't old enough to really pray the sinner's prayer. How damaging would that be to her little faith? The kingdom of heaven is made up of people of faith, big and small. I have faith, and Rae has faith. It's not a junior faith. It's her faith. And who am I to hinder her from going to Jesus? May it never be.

Today we are rejoicing with the angels. We know that Rae's faith is real. Our daughter is saved. And there is NO GREATER JOY.

Want to know the sweetest part? After JP and Rae called me to tell me the news and he tucked in her for the night, she fell right to sleep. Her burden of guilt was lifted, and she could rest. And when she woke up this morning, one of the first things she said to me was, "I didn't turn the light on at all, Mommy!"

(Rae performing surgical maneuvers on Baby Bear)


Andrea said...

Wow. What a way to start the new year! To see children "get it" and start to walk in fellowship with Jesus is the sweetest thing in the world; I can only imagine how much more wonderful it is when it's your own child. Tears are streaming down my face as it begins to sink in that I have another "little sister" in the Lord. What a sweet blessing.

Sarah D said...

Praise the Lord! What an amazing testimony. God is so good! :)

Jon G said...

This story brought me to tears! Truly no greater joy than this. I can't wait for the moments when my children do the same! Thanks for sharing it.

Lynette said...

What a blessing. Andrea was 3 when she asked Jesus into her heart too. The best is yet to come. You will be able to watch her blossom and grow. It is sooooo awsome!

Cole said...

Great testimony! Thank you for sharing

Bron and Jenda said...

Audra, that's wonderful! The angels in the heavens are rejoicing with you all :)