“This is the day.” I have prayed for the salvation of my children since before they were born. I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my daughter over 8 years ago; I immediately covered my belly with my hands and prayed with tears of joy. I prayed for her future, but most of all, her salvation.
As the years went on, my heart would plea for my children to know and walk in the Lord. Every conversation, every moment spent with my oldest would leave me wondering, is this the moment? Is this the day? When will it come? Like a kid before Christmas, I awaited these things.
As a parent, there is no greater joy than watching your children grow in their understanding of spiritual things. In the beginning they have such a simple understanding. God is real because He is. Their prayers are simple and they talk to God so easily. As they grow in understanding, their prayers and beliefs grow deeper, but they never lose the simplicity of “God’s real because He is.” My 4 year old son’s prayers have changed from thanking God for every toy in his room, to thanking Jesus for dying on the cross to take away our sin and praying for God to help him be kind to others.
So my heart was overjoyed when my daugher began asking questions over a year ago about death, salvation, the resurrection, heaven and hell, and what being a Christian really meant. While we were so excited since we had been waiting for this moment for years, we were extremely cautious. We didn’t want her to make a decision based on what we wanted, what her friends had done, or fear of hell. We wanted her to come to Jesus because in her little heart, that was the only place to turn to. Over the next year, we watched, waited, and continued conversations about salvation with her. She’d say, “I’ll make the decision when I’m 7,” and then it became, “when I’m eight.” We tried to be patient and understanding because we wanted it to be her decision, not ours. An eternal decision that would last the rest of her life.
Finally, that day had come. My husband’s grandmother had just passed away a few days before after a long battle with Alziehmer’s. At the visitation, we let our children view the body. We felt like it was important for closure. We talked with her about how Granny was in heaven because of a decision she had made long ago to follow Christ. My daughter and a couple of her cousins began talking about this and came to view the body over and over again. We knew she was pondering all of these things. Over the next few days, she asked many questions and we opened the Word and talked through them with her. One night during Kidstreet (our children’s ministry), my daughter kept asking her daddy, who leads the ministry, to talk to her. She could hardly contain herself until we got home. As soon as he walked in the door, she said she was ready to talk about salvation. I watched as my husband took our daughter in his lap, opened the Word, and walked her through the story of Christ, starting with the beginning. Over the next hour, she listened intently, like she had never listened before, and finally she prayed and told God how thankful she was for his sacrifice at the cross and how she wanted to follow him. She had originally wanted to wait until she turned eight, but that night she said she just couldn’t wait! I told her with tears of joy how long I had prayed for this day, and she responded with, “This is the day.” Yes, my sweet one, this is the day of salvation.
There were so many things that led to this day, so many people who played a part in her journey to this moment. However, what we have found is that we are the most important people. We are the ones who shape our children’s understanding of who He is. Since being a parent and being in the ministry,these are some things that we have found over the years that will help lead children to follow the Lord.
1. Live out your faith
You are your child’s best teacher. They will watch you, mimic you, and learn from you, so you must decide what you want to teach them. If you desire your children’s salvation, live out your own faith. A friend of mine has a son who became interested in the Lord at 4 years old. She realized that she couldn’t really talk to him about spiritual things because she didn’t know much about the Lord. This began a lifelong journey of seeking the Lord for herself and learning about him for herself first, and as she grew, her famiy grew as well. Her son’s faith was so important to her, that she sought after the Lord so she coud grow and teach her son.
2. Speak openly about your walk with Christ.
As a Christian society, we have become so focused on our children “asking Jesus into their hearts” that sometimes we forget to share the reality of what a relationsip with Christ means and looks like. They are on a seeking journey and the best thing we can do is be real with them. Share about your heartaches, your weaknesses, your stuggless (they will see them anyway), but also share about your Savior, Rescuer, Redeemer, Restorer. No, you don’t have to share everything, as they may not be ready to handle certain things, but be real about your walk with Him. You might find that as you share, you will grow too. One of the most difficult conversations I had with my daughter was about 9/11. She had watched part of a documentary with her daddy and that sparked questions she had about heaven and hell. Even though there were some difficult truths that needed to be discussed, I did not shrink back. This was part of her seking and she needed to know the truth about righteousness and evil.
3. Let them ask questions. If you dont know the answer, ask someone who does or search for it until you do.
It’s okay if you don’t know the answers to the questions they ask. They can ask some pretty tough questions as their little mind is searching for truth! Like my friend who wanted to be able to answer these questions her son was asking, seek out answers and talk to poeple who may know the answers. It is so important to take an active role in your child’s journey for truth. Your faith will grow along the way!
4. Take your child to church and children’s programs regularly and attend them yourself! Show them where your priorities are!
If your child desires to play a sport, you teach them and sign them up to play on a team where they can learn. So if they desire to learn about the Lord, bring them to a place where they can learn and grow. Show them that their growth is important and that you value their desire to know the Lord. But even more important, attend yourself; remember, you are your child’s greatest teacher and even if you think others know more than you, they will look to you first. My friend didn’t just start dropping her son off at church so he could learn, she became an active participant and came herself!
5. Pray for their salvation.
Above all, never cease to pray for their journey as they seek the Lord and for that sweet day of salvation as it draws near. “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth (3 John 1:4 ESV).” That day will be one of the best moments. It was the greatest moment in this momma’s heart. And may you treasure and ponder these spiritual things as Mary did, “But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart (Luke 2:19 ESV).”