For his or her children to love God.
We know that the greatest gift we can give our children is the opportunity to have faith in God through Jesus Christ. So it can be gut-wrenching to watch a child rebel against this, and a test of our patience and endurance as we allow the process to happen (trusting in God’s grace), instead of forcing it to happen.
Trey, our six-year-old, has struggled so far with the whole “God-thing.” He knows that Mommy and Daddy “love Jesus” and that it’s a very real and important thing to us. But he has not liked Sunday School classes or a lot of the Christian stuff we do. When we have times when we sit down and talk about Jesus or read a Bible story, Trey would usually harrumph and pout and sometimes get down-right angry. This has been very stressful on Linda, because the twins (Joel and Kaira) seem so much more open to God than Trey. Linda has been wonderful in her endurance through this trying time, she continues to show grace and love even when Trey's words and actions can deeply irritate and even hurt her.
But we continued to pray (especially Linda, who made it a daily priority). The only thing that softens a heart that's hard to God is God's divine love--we can't do this, only God can do this. God's grace replaces a heart of stone with a spiritually awakened heart (Ezekiel 36:26).
Anyway, lately we have seen a turn-around in Trey’s attitude. He told Linda that he wants to get Daddy “The Passion of the Christ DVD.” When Linda asked him why, he replied, “Because Daddy loves Jesus.”
Then one day, he said to Linda (kind of out of the blue), “You know what Mommy? I think everybody in this house loves God.” Linda couldn’t believe her ears. “Everybody, Trey?” “Yea, everybody.” “You too?” “Yea, me too.” Linda cheered and danced around and gave him a big hug, and he had the biggest grin on his face—that kind of grin that proudly says, “I did the right thing, and I’m glad!”
Then this last Sunday, Trey decided he wanted to sit with us in the main worship service at church. In his sermon, the pastor at the church we’ve been attending on Sunday mornings, Greg Nettle, told a story about his 6-year-old daughter. At Thanksgiving, the members of his family were all saying what they were thankful for, and Tabitha said she was thankful for Jesus. Greg said, “Oh! How it warms a parent’s heart when they hear their child say something like that. I guess when they’re around parents who love Jesus, it kind of rubs off on their children.”
Right at that moment, Trey turned to Linda and me and gave this look—a half smile, half “See? What did I tell you?” look—that will be the most treasured image in my mind for years to come. He then turned and looked intently at the preacher, while Linda and I tried not to be too disruptive with our laughter.
We were laughing for two reasons—(1) simply because Trey’s look was just so hilarious, and (2) because Trey’s actually getting it! We are laughing with a deep, deep joy.
Thank you, God, for your grace. We look forward to the continued journey of faith (both the ups and the downs) with these children!