Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Best Night of My Life

Life holds several great moments. Memorable vacations, holidays and birthdays. Graduations. Engagement. Your wedding day. The births of your children. My personal highlight reel is pretty spectacular, despite my desert years. So maybe the other night wasn't really the best night of my life, but it was pretty darn close.

Jesus had me like...

I don't remember how many people I've led to the Lord. Not that many, but enough to lose count and no one recently. On Monday, August 1, 2016, I had the indescribable privilege of leading both of my children to the Lord.

Bet I don't forget that.

The moment took me by surprise. For several reasons. First, I was tired and kind of grumpy. Ten minutes prior, Micah had thrown a fit because I let Sara lick a drop of honey off my finger and not him. So like any good descendant of Juanita Chapman, I lectured him on the general unfairness of life--I may or may not be guilty of having mentioned starving kids in Africa--and reinforced my refusal to be held hostage by a standard of equality.

Ain't. happenin'.

So Micah didn't even like me when we sat down for our bedtime reading and devotional. Fortunately, Shel Silverstein loosened things up a bit before we got into real things.

But there's also my whole deal with the famous "sinner's prayer." Before my Baptist friends cry heresy, let me explain. 

I've seen way too many people pray a magic "save me from hell" prayer, go on like nothing happened and convince themselves they're Christians. The ABCs saved them. Once saved, always saved. Nothing to worry about.

While there's nothing inherently wrong with the ABCs or the sinner's prayer, unless there's friendship with God which leads to genuine transformation from the inside out, there's a decent possibility that nothing happened. At least, nothing that lasted. 

For myself, I don't believe I had a moment of salvation. Rather, it happened in stages and is--arguably--still happening. 

"But he who endures to the end shall be saved." ~Matthew 24:13

Thus, I've always encouraged my kids toward relationship with Jesus and operated under the assumption they belong to Him unless proven otherwise as they exercise their free will over time. While I encourage prayer, I've never encouraged "asking Jesus into your heart." But what do you do when your kids realize they're sinners and want to be rescued?

Apparently, you revisit your roots. But I'm getting ahead of myself. 

God's gonna do what God's gonna do. 

 

God loves to prove me wrong. He loves to surprise me, and he loves to give me good things in spite of myself. (Not too different from that husband of mine.) So despite the fact I was far from a suitable frame of mind, the Holy Spirit dropped in my living room Monday night. 

We opened our copy of Thoughts to Make Your Heart Sing* to the entry entitled "Friend of Sinners."

 *Seriously, if you have littles, get this book.



The following conversation went something like this--

Sara's brow furrowed. "Why does Jesus love sinners, Mama?"

I straightened. They don't usually ask questions about the Bible story. I love questions. "Well, he loves people and all people are sinners. God made us all to be like Him. To be His friends. But we disobeyed Him and ruined everything. Thankfully, God sent Jesus to live with us and to die to pay for our sin so we don't have to. When we believe in Him, we aren't sinners anymore. We're the righteousness of God. Because I count on Jesus for salvation, I'm the righteousness of God."

Micah stretched his body forward and looked at me intently. "Are we sinners?" He pointed to himself and Sara.

I smiled. My son was having a light bulb moment and there was a holy weight in the air. "Yes. Until Jesus lives inside of you."

Micah blinked tears from his big brown eyes. "I want Jesus to live inside of me. I don't want to be a sinner anymore."

Sara's eyes grew bright and she bounced in her seat. "Me too! Me too!"

So I led them in a carefully worded prayer. Never mind that I almost broke a sweat trying to accommodate my personal biases. (Feel free to laugh. I'm ridiculous.)

When it was over, I sang hymns which celebrate salvation. The kids leaped from the couch and danced joyfully to the thin melody sounding from my hot and swollen throat.

Immediately after, Micah wanted to tell his favorite person in the world--his Nona.

This, my friends, is the Gospel. 

 

The Gospel tells the truth about our sad state, but with hope. It convicts, but doesn't scold. It doesn't condemn, but woos. It's about love, not fear. The motivation is less about avoiding hell and more about enjoying heaven on earth through right relationship with our Creator and Savior. It's about discovering the greatest Beauty of the universe and telling everyone so they can appreciate Him, too. It makes us dance for joy because we were once lost and are now found.

Micah and Sara invited Jesus into their lives because they want to be His friends. They want to know Him.

Before heading to bed, Micah asked me, "Mama, will I be able to hear God now?"

"Yes, Baby. When you read the Bible, when you pray, when you listen for Him, He'll speak and you'll hear."

Again, tears filled his eyes. (I love that boy's tender heart.) "Do you hear from God?" he asked me.

"Yes, Love. All the time. And you will, too." Then I laid hands on him, asked God to fill Micah with his Spirit and to give him all the gifts He gave to me.

Seeds Sown

 

For years, I've sat with Micah and Sara day after day, night after night telling them of my Jesus. I've read the stories, sung the songs, praying all the while that it would matter. I've asked God time and again to help me live in such a way that they would want a life with Jesus for themselves. What an honor to lead these precious ones to Him.

I now can see the first hint of green peeking above the soil. And I know--my real work has just begun.


2 comments:

Unknown said...

Melissa...tears..this is sooooo precious and priceless, your heart must be overflowing and such a perfect reminder of what the Gospel is all about..thank so much you for sharing...love yall Linda

Talena Winters said...

So amazing and special. Love it.