The lights were out but I could see tears in her eyes. We had just finished praying and I was ready to kiss her good night but… the tears…why. And then she shared, “Jesus loves us so much Mommy. He loves us sooo much.” “Yes Faithy He does.” “[Teary-eyed] No Mommy, Jesus really really loves us. Do you know how much? He loves us sooo much. Jesus really loves us so sooo much.” Jesus words in Matthew filled my mind, “From the overflow of a man’s heart, his lips speak.” Faithy had wanted to be baptized since she was 6. Eric and I had said ‘no’ because we wanted to make sure she really grasped the meaning of baptism and had genuinely committed herself to a relationship with the LORD – we didn’t want it to be about getting the crackers and grape juice during communion. In the dark of her room that night, I saw the light of Christ in her. The Father had taken her little fallen heart of stone and given her a heart of flesh just like He promised in Ezekiel 11. A heart that could begin to perceive and respond to the depth of the love Jesus has for her. A heart that would begin to beat more and more like His. Three weekends later with all of her friends, family and church guests present, she declared her saving relationship with Christ, shared Psalm 131 and smiled the whole time her Daddy immersed her in the water. To remember the day, we had everyone write in Faith’s “Book of Baptism Blessings.” Something each of our girls have cherished after their special day.
While man looks at the outward appearances, God looks at the heart (1Sam 16:7). Between 740 and 687 BC, during the days of the prophet Isaiah, God is on record as lamenting over His people saying, “They worship me with their lips but their hearts are far from me.” He continues with the example, “their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isaiah 29:13). The life of a Christian Convert is one of compulsion, rule following, a life lived in dichotomy – half in the ‘real world’ and half in the ‘church world’ – developing a split personality of sorts. The life of a Christian Child of God is one of eager willingness, loving obedience; a life lived in relationship with the Father – a citizen of heaven working for the King in a fallen world. God desires Children not Converts. While we will not walk this out perfectly we can walk it out purposefully.
Just as God pursues us with a relentless love, He is also after the hearts of our children. If we have little ones, we are accountable not just for our personal walk but for raising our children to walk well before the LORD – with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. Our child’s spiritual upbringing is not meant to be laid at the feet of pastors, ministers, priests or youth leaders. That responsibility and accountability is placed in our hands. We lead by example, open-hearted before God. Our discipline focused on developing a heart for God rather than on mere adherence to a set of Christian rules. We engage our children in discussions over scripture, value their insights on matters at hand, and inquire into their thoughts about God – His character, His creation, His being. We emphasize their uniqueness by sharing, time and again, stories from their life – how they were named, what happened the day they were born, their first words, the day we first discovered a special trait God knit into their personality, and like stories.
We can choose to leave a spiritual legacy – as an individual, as a married couple, and as a family. We will not do this perfectly but we can do it purposefully. When we make mistakes, we seek the Father and we keep walking. All the while praying earnestly that one day each of our children, and each of our children’s children, will come to truly know what we have already been shown: that “Jesus really really loves us so sooo much.”