“And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
I wanted to reiterate what a mighty Savior Jesus is. But, I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually drained from an very long week. I didn’t think what I had to say made it any farther than the end of my nose.
But, I now know one person was listening.
On the drive home tonight, my son Jakob, asked me,”Daddy, did you read the little card I filled out at Vacation Bible School?”
“Yes, son, I did.”
“And what did it say,” he asked.
“You said you had questions.”
“Well, I do,” he responded.
“What are your questions?
“You know how you talked about sin, and how we need to confess them to God, and how Jesus can save us?”
“Well, how do I do that?”
When we arrived home, my wife and I sat with him in our living room. Through a river of tears, Jakob began asking how to verbalize to God that he wanted to confess, repent, and believe. He said he wanted to follow Jesus, and for Jesus to give him hope and cover his sin.
His mom and I hugged him, loved on him, and we welcomed him into God’s family.
I explained to him that the road isn’t easy. It’s easy to put our hand on the plow and look back. It’s easy to repeat the words of a prayer, or follow what your friends are doing.
He matter-of-factly said that he already knew that, and this was about him and God.
I will be baptizing my son soon, and I could not be more excited as he lets his church know that Jesus has called him to follow, and by God’s grace, he has answered the call.
All this prompts me to share a few simple thoughts about Jakob’s experience, my experience, and my ministry to children.
Salvation only comes in God’s time, not ours. I know there are well-meaning parents who “lean” on their kids to “make a decision,” or “pray the prayer.” Lisa and I never felt the slightest inclination to do that. Lisa and I were around various churches in our youth, how could we not be living in the buckle of the Bible Belt? We both heard gospel presentations, had preachers visit us, etc. Yet, we never believed. Why? Because it wasn’t God’s time to call us out. My advice to parents is, don’t feel pressured, or apply pressure, to elicit a decision from your child. Give the Holy Spirit room to work. In the proper time, God will bring a harvest if we work on planting and watering the seeds with our children. Be patient. Trust him, he knows what he’s doing.
Salvation is not a one-time decision, but a life-long process. I’ve written on this before. It troubles me that some guy who shows absolutely no signs of regeneration points to a time he walked an aisle, signed a card, or prayed a prayer as the “proof” of his salvation. With Jakob, Lisa and I have always taught him that, while his conversion experience is to be treasured, it’s just a part of a bigger picture God has painted. Salvation is something God does for us, and he is faithful to complete what he’s started. For the Christian, the road isn’t a one-time memory, but a lifetime of pressing on; and by God’s grace we will persevere.
Listen to your child and teach your child. I always get a sense of pride when someone tells me Jakob sounds like a little theologian. That’s nothing to be ashamed of. Lisa and I, for all our failures, have made it a point to teach him the Gospel, and to explain how the dots connect. What’s the shame in that? We don’t want to make him a little theological egghead, but you’d better believe it’s our duty as parents to explain and teach him the scriptures. And, there were times when he sent me to the books in order to give him a careful, accurate answer. And I owed him that!
Too many parents sell their children short in matters of faith. Don’t. They may hate school and learning, but when God begins to deal with them about their eternal soul, we had better be prepared to accommodate. Too often we pass this responsibility off on pastors, youth ministers, or other church staff. We can assist, but the heavy stuff is our job!
Teach them by example. Live your faith in front of them, all the glory and the failings. Be genuine.
Pay attention when your child has spiritual questions or observations, and seize on the occasion to teach him or her. Listen.
We took each opportunity to explain things to Jakob as best we could. But, more than anything we listened, not just to Jakob but to the Holy Spirit. I can recount numerous conversations with Jakob over the years in which I’m sure some parents (and pastors) would’ve pressured him to mouth some words and pronounced him “saved”. It takes a lot of restraint to simply listen to your child as they say things and ask questions regarding Jesus, God, and faith.
I am one happy daddy. Lisa is one happy mother. Jakob is one happy boy. He said he feels like his load has been lightened. It has. By God’s grace, Jesus bears it for him.
Also, God notwithstanding, I would like to say “Thank you” to all the friends who have prayed for Jakob, and for us. It means alot. Please continue! I want to especially thank one little girl who was to God on Jakob’s behalf like the persistent friend: always knocking, knocking, knocking (in her own little way), and asking for God to show grace to Jakob.