Saturday, July 5, 2014

Rejoicing With Angels

            “. . . I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  (Luke 15:10) 

            “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.”  (3 John, verse 4)

            I just had the incredible privilege of leading my fourth son in a prayer to make Jesus his Lord and Savior.  And he’s only four years old.  He’ll be five tomorrow.
            This brings all of my four boys into the fold.  What an amazing blessing!  There is truly nothing that can compare to the joy of knowing that all four of my children have chosen to make Jesus their Lord and Savior.  They have chosen (as we explain it to them in child’s terms) to “be on God’s side.”  And God has answered my prayers for them to make this decision at a very young age, even younger than me.  (I was eleven.)
            My oldest two were eight and six.  They made the decision at the same time when we were studying ancient Egypt and the gods they worshipped.  As I was comparing those gods to my God, both of my boys said that they wanted to “choose the real God.”  So right there in the kitchen, with schoolbooks in our hands, I led them in a simple prayer for salvation. 
            And I tell you, I have never fumbled over my words more than when trying to lead my children in a “salvation prayer.”  I get tongue-tied as I struggle to remember which important points should be included while searching my mind for Bible verses about salvation and trying to figure out how to put it in more concrete, child-understandable terms.  I’ve never felt more inadequate than when leading them in these prayers.  And yet somehow, we make it through and God’s grace covers my mistakes and my children’s hearts open up and let in His love and forgiveness.  Thank You, Lord!
            My third son, like my fourth, was also four years old when he made the decision.  And I’ll admit, I was skeptical that a child that young could make a “real” decision for the Lord.  But God can do amazing things.  And children can understand far more than we give them credit for.  And far more than we can understand ourselves sometimes. 
            I have prayed for each of my boys that God would get their hearts very early in life and that He would help them understand their need for salvation and for  Jesus, and that He would help me know when the time was right.  I believe very much in praying with my eyes open, meaning that I pray that when they show a readiness to believe and to make a decision that I am able to recognize it and grab ahold of the opportunity.  And that’s what happened with all my children.  I prayed for them often and then watched to see if and when they showed a desire to choose to be on God’s team.  And for my last two, it happened at four years old.  Which blows my mind.  But I can tell you that they really do understand and that their choice is very real. 
            For my third, the moment after we prayed, I didn’t quite know what to say, so I said, “I’m so proud, honey.  You just chose God.” 
            And he puffed up his little chest and got a big smile on his face and said, “Yeah, I did.” 
            And then his eyes opened in a kind of wonderment and he said, “You know what . . . God chose me.” 
            I just paused and stared at him and my mouth fell open a little as all the Bible verses about God choosing us to be His children and giving us the faith to believe came to my mind.  My son was so right.  God really did choose us, first and foremost.  I had never shared this notion with him but somehow he knew it. 
            And in the four years since he has made this decision, I have never seen more biblical understanding and more faith and more spiritual maturity in any child his age.  He blows me away with the truths he seems to know and grasp onto.  His nightly prayers even included thanks that God is going to bring His holy temple (the New Jerusalem) down to earth someday and that all things will be made perfect and right again.  Children are capable of much more spiritual maturity and understanding than we give them credit for.
            At that point, I had three children who chose to believe.  And I have been conscientiously praying recently for God to call my youngest – my fourth son - at an early age and for me to have the eyes to see when he showed readiness to make a decision. 
            And now, just today, out of the blue and as he was playing a video game, he said, “The devil is a bad guy, right?” 
            And I said, “Yes, he’s the baddest guy there is.”  And then we talked a bit about how the devil didn’t want to be on God’s side, about how he wanted to be on his own side, and about how he wants to take as many people away from God’s side as possible. 
            And then my son thought a moment and said, “I don’t think God should have made the devil.”  Wow!  How do you answer to something like that?  This is one of the greatest obstacles to faith that even adults have, the fact that God created evil in the first place, that He could have stopped it but didn’t.  So I took a deep breath and tried to explain that God wants people to choose Him, but He wants people to be on His side because they want to be with Him, not just because they have to.  So people have to decide who they want to be with, if they want to be on God’s side or on the devil’s side. 
            And then my son got a very serious, stern look on his face and firmly said, “I choose God’s side.” 
            Ding!  The alarm went off in my head that this was the opportunity that I was waiting for.  It was from within him, his decision.  And so I grabbed onto it. 
            “You know, honey, if you want to be on God’s side, there is something we can do.  We can pray about it.” 
            And so he put the video game controller down, clasped his little hands together and closed his little eyes tightly, and he followed along with me in prayer, “Dear God, I choose to be on Your side.  Jesus, come into my heart as my Lord and Savior.  I believe You died for my sins.  Thank You for forgiving my sins.  Holy Spirit, help me grow in faith.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.”  And then he went right back to playing his video game.  (Boys will be boys!)  And now, my prayers are for their spiritual growth and maturity.  
            I tell you, there is no greater joy than to know my children have chosen to be on God’s side.  And that I was able to be there with them as angels rejoiced.  All else can be stripped away from me, but I will be spending eternity worshipping God and singing with the angels, alongside my husband and all four of my boys.  There is no greater joy or blessing than that.  Thank You, Lord!  Thank You!