My (Joy) comments at this modern-day journaling medium known as the "blog" are written almost entirely for the purpose of recording the work of God in our family so that our children and grandchildren will know the history of God's faithfulness in our lives.
Last week we experienced every Christian parent's greatest joy as our younger boys asked Jesus to forgive them from their sins and lead them throughout the rest of their lives. Because they recognized that they are sinners and are in need of a Savior; and because they believe that Jesus came to earth to live a sinless life, die on the cross, and forgive them from their sins, they have eternal life. Once our lives have ended here on earth, we have the joy of knowing we'll spend eternity with our precious boys.
For several months Harrison (7) had been talking with me about asking Jesus into his heart. I took the advice of a former youth pastor who suggested we allow our children time to truly understand and desire a relationship with Christ rather than leading them in a sinner's prayer of confession the very first time they showed even the remotest interest. It has always been of great importance to us that our children's salvation experiences be forever imprinted on their memories and that they remember well their desire to become a God-follower. We did not want them to look back during turbulent years ahead and wonder if they truly had been saved or if they only were responding to their parents' desire for them to ask for Jesus' forgiveness. We wanted their decisions to be their own and not to be coerced in any way.
Whereas Harrison had been expressing a desire to be saved, Sullivan seemed oblivious to his need for a personal relationship with Christ. Much like his older brother, Oliver, Sullivan is a concrete thinker and approaches situations from an academic standpoint rather than emotional.
Since Meredith and Elliott were ages 6 and 7 when they accepted Christ, it was very burdensome to me and Timmy when Oliver turned 9 and still seemed to have no need of salvation. Once when I asked Oliver if he knew why Jesus died on the cross (expecting him to mention our sinful state and need of a Savior), he responded by saying, "Jesus was crucified because he made the government officials and priests angry by saying that He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in 3 days." I remember being amazed that he could find such an analytical explanation for Jesus' death. Sullivan sees things from a similar perspective and although aware of his sinfulness, he had not expressed a need for salvation.
During Sullivan's recent sickness and hospitalization, I noticed that he would wake up from bad dreams completely terrified. During one night-terror at the hospital that caused the nurse to come to Sullivan's room, I asked if he was on any medication that was causing him to be so fearful. I explained that he was ordinarily a very stable, happy boy and that I was unaccustomed to his recent terror-filled episodes where he would run toward the door of his hospital room as if he were trying to escape, only to run back to me and cling to me as if someone were trying to take him away. I had never seen him so filled with terror. I assumed it was all related to the illness, but was concerned when it happened more than a week after he came home and was completely recovered.
On the morning of August 5th, Harrison woke up just as I was finishing my morning devotions, plopped down on the couch beside me, and began telling me about a scary dream he had. I remarked that Sullivan had a terrible dream in the night also and asked him if they had been reading something scary that could be causing the bad dreams. As we talked, Sullivan came downstairs and joined us. The Holy Spirit prompted me to tell them of Oliver's salvation which was prompted by a bad dream he had one night. I read them Job 33:15 "He (God) speaks in dreams, in visions of the night when deep sleep falls on people as they lie in bed. He whispers in their ears and terrifies them with his warning." I also shared Proverbs 3:24 that says, "You can lie down without fear and enjoy pleasant dreams." I told them how Jesus can protect them and keep them safe so they wouldn't ever have to fear disaster again. As we continued to talk, they both said that they wanted to ask for Jesus' forgiveness. As only God could do, the details worked out for us to call Timmy who was in North Carolina helping Meredith begin a day of lot cutting with the tractor. He immediately stopped everything and went to the van where it was quiet. I put my cell phone on the speaker setting and only quietly observed as Timmy led his two little boys individually in a prayer of confession and acceptance of Christ. What complete joy filled those moments - much like the minutes following the births of our babies. For that brief time, everything is right in the world. There are no worries, no concerns - everything is perfect.
During the next few hours, we called extended family members to let the boys share the good news of their conversions. The boys were quick to remind me to write their spiritual birth dates on the calendar so we could rejoice with them each year like we do with the older children. Sullivan said that his salvation qualifies him to now consider becoming a missionary. Harrison cleverly suggested, though his request was denied, that a "no chore" day be observed as is common practice for their real birthdays each year.
So now we begin the most joyous chapter in parenting of leading and encouraging our young boys in their growth and relationship with Jesus. Our joy is complete! God is so good.