It was a difficult morning with Donny. By difficult, I mean two ear-piercing tantrums that left me wondering what sort of out-of-control maniac had possessed my three year old. It was during the second of these outbursts, when I had exhausted all coping and discipline methods that seemed Biblical and reasonable, that I cried out to the Lord for wisdom. What, oh what, could I do to help my struggling son?
In His mercy and grace, God reminded me of a blog post I stumbled across yesterday about bringing our children to the Gospel. So when Donny had finally calmed down and joined us at the table for snack, I began to retell the old, old story of the Saviour who died for our sins. I reminded him that God is perfect, but we all sin sometimes and need God to forgive us. I hoped that someday he would ask God to forgive his sins and let Jesus be his Saviour so that he could have the Holy Spirit in his heart. And the Holy Spirit, I explained, would help him to have all those fruits in the verse we memorized, like love, joy, peace...and self-control, the fruit I fervently pray for him to develop. I told how because of Jesus' death on the cross, we don't have to go to hell; we can be forgiven and live with God forever in heaven. It was probably, in my limited experience as an evangelist, the most comprehensive explanation of the Gospel I have ever given at one time.
Of course, Donny replied to my heartfelt synopsis in true preschooler fashion. In a voice that bordered on the edge of tears, he whispered, "I hope they have Legos in Heaven."
Ah, the mysteries of God. Not only do I have to explain the Being we cannot see or hear who lives in the mystical place that we cannot drive to, but now I have to convince him that the unseen place will be even better than an eternity of colorful connecting blocks.
Later he said, "Did you not know that one time, I prayed to God and asked him to be my Saviour?"
"I did not know that," I replied honestly.
"I prayed in my head one time," he told me. After some more discussion, he realized that we forgot to pray before snack. So we held hands, and this child, who has whined and complained about every meal I have served to him this week, prayed, "Dear God, thank you for forgiving my sins. And thank you for all the yummy food so we don't have to eat manna and quail like the Israelites. In Jesus' name, Amen."
Apparently not all of my words of instruction have fallen on deaf ears. It was several weeks ago that we learned about the Israelites eating manna and quail in the desert, and how we ought to be thankful for the great variety of food we have to eat. Is it possible that little lesson, instead of getting washed away in the daily rains, actually took root in his childish heart?
I would love to tell you that everything was wonderful after that discussion at the table, but it would not be true. The remainder of the morning was still challenging, as I am certain many future mornings will be. Still, I thanked God for that little glimmer of heaven-bound hope that I caught during morning snack. He may not understand it all yet, but maybe his heart is beginning to grasp what his head cannot. And maybe, with plenty of time and loving discipline and continual heapings of grace, the Gospel will sink in to my firstborn's fragile soul, and the Holy Spirit will bear some precious, long-awaited fruit.