When I was growing up, salvation and “getting saved” to me always meant believing in Jesus so that you wouldn’t end up in hell. What kid wants to end up going to hell, away from his/her parents for all eternity? I surely didn’t.
Salvation was never really explained to me the way it should have been, and it was often just assumed that I understood since I had been submerged into Christianity my entire little life. I was baptised when I was young (5 years old, if I remember correctly). And I can remember being terrified of the water…that’s about it. There was no huge inside change or glorious feeling. I was just happy to be out of the water once it was over. I had a sense of pride for myself — I had just gotten baptised and that was awesome. But nothing changed. I finally rededicated my life to Christ as a teenager and again in early adulthood. I was great at talking the talk before that, and I loved Jesus with all my heart, but to honestly say I knew Him? Probably not.
My goal in life is to make sure my child understands salvation a lot differently than I did (or didn’t). He has always been very curious and loving when it comes to having a relationship with God, and I’ve never pushed it. Christ is part of our daily routine here, it is second nature at all times. Sure, as parents, we mess up, but we are quick to ask forgiveness and when it boils down to it, he understands grace….because he receives it as well.
So we’ve been dancing this dance of give and take and mistakes and grace for the past (almost) 6 years of his life. He believes in Jesus, he loves God, and he earnestly tries to do right when he thinks about it. But he’s also a 5 year old little rambunctious boy. And we can’t expect him to do “right” all the time.
I knew the salvation conversation would come eventually, but I didn’t want to have it too soon. Building blocks and stepping stones have been my base with him from the beginning, but in the past 3 weeks, he’s been building and stepping all by himself.
I have purposefully never once mentioned the second coming of Christ to him, for fear that it would sway his “salvation” decision at such a young age. Let me just say, I understand my little one is only 5, but he is not treated like a “little one” most days. He’s intelligent, he asks questions and demands answers, this kid it going places…
We were laying in the hammock like any other day — it’s the place where him and I have deep conversation one minute and play “I Spy” the next. I think we’ve “spied” everything there is to be seen from that hammock. The question finally came, “mama, what happens to Satan…how does Jesus win in the end?”
If you’re a Christian parent, you understand how crucial this information is. It doesn’t matter if you believe in the rapture or not. It doesn’t matter if you are pre- mid- or post trib believing. You have to get it right the first time without fear mongering or using large terms that may confuse or upset a child. You want your child to understand the whole story, not just bits and pieces.
He took it like a champ. He had about 50 questions….questions that most adults don’t even ask. I answered on his terms and in ways he could relate to. And then I thought, now that he knows the entire story, why not talk about salvation? But before I knew it, once again, he was one step ahead of me. “Mama what does that mean, saved?”
Some parents would brush it off and give a short run down of it. They’re much too busy to worry with it, their kid is already saved….right?
Other parents would feel as though it wouldn’t make a difference, he’s only 5.
But scripture says…
“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said:’Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.’” Matthew 18:2-5
And so we talked about salvation, and he told me the story of Jesus, and it all clicked. I could see it in his face and his eyes, he understood it. And then he said, “well, Jesus is already in my heart, but maybe I should officially ask Him, huh?”
….and so he did. He prayed, while placing his hand on his heart and with his eyes closed as tightly as possible.
…and there was peace…
…and there was laughter…
…and there was joy…
…there was understanding and love….
He wanted to scream it to the rooftop what he’d just done, because he thought it was one of the most important decisions he had ever made. He wanted to tell his friends and his cousins. He wanted to tell people he didn’t even know….because “what if they don’t know Jesus”.
But the most amazing change happened, not just in him, but in my own heart.
I’ve had more grace in my parenting.
I’ve had more love.
I’ve been more patient.
I’ve been more gentle.
I’ve always known that my job is to train him, but to really sit down and realize just how young in Christ he really is….he needs a lot more training than I ever imagined. But with gentleness and love. And lots and lots of grace. It doesn’t mean he’ll never be disciplined or that I won’t make a mistake in motherhood. But it does mean that it just got real. It just got real because I realized that not only am I training and raising my child, but I’m now training and raising a child of God. What an incredible gift it is to be handed this responsibility. And I want to make sure that he’s getting the best of me, not just the rest of me. Because he’s definitely going to need it from this point on.
I want to pour into his life without ever expecting anything in return from him, because after all is said and done, he wasn’t put on this earth for me….I was put on this earth for him. One day he’ll walk out my front door and go home to a family of his own (if that’s what he wants). One day he’ll teach his own children the same grace and love that we have taught him. One day that hammock will be empty, and we won’t get to have those conversations or “I Spy” games…..and I’ll miss them….but I’ll know to Whom he belongs, and I will have no fear of the life and journey set before him.
The smallest of salvations can have the biggest impact in the kingdom of God. We are kingdom minded people living in a world that needs Jesus more and more everyday. I don’t want him to be frightened by it. I don’t want him to live in fear because of his beliefs. I want it to be second nature to him and I want him to be so close to the Lord that he is unwavering, even as a little child. I want him to impact the people around him in a positive way. I want him to feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit (which has already started, it’s incredible to see) and become more aware of the presence of God all around him. I want him to feel free to talk about Jesus and ask questions….even if he might think they seem silly.
And I want my life to be a living reflection of Jesus to him, because after all, I am the very first “Jesus” that he’s ever met. If his view of me is tainted, then so also will his view of Christ be.