My little Samantha has been doing some deep thinking lately - asking lots (and LOTS) of questions about God and Jesus and Heaven. She started one recent conversation by stating out of the clear blue sky that "I'm a'scared of Jesus cuz he's a stranger."
Indeed! I suppose he is a stranger until you take the time to know him. What a simply profound way of stating how so many people must feel about him.
I was overjoyed to see her older brother and sister jump right in and say, "Oh, well I know him, and you don't have to be afraid. Just ask him to come be with you and you'll see!"
Each time Sammy asked her questions, I'd be sure to let her know that Jesus loves her very much and wants her to love him too. I always ended the conversation with "Would you like to ask him to be with you now? I can help you if you'd like."
Her answer was always something along the lines of "no", "not now", or "maybe later".
I'm here to answer her questions when she has them, but I'm not going to try and scare her, convince her, or pressure her to welcome Jesus into her life. So...that would be the end of the conversation.
She had me laughing out loud today. We were on the way home from my Wednesday morning Bible study - she has a little class of her own to go to while I'm in my study. On the way home, she was showing me the coloring sheets she did, and asked me to read the words to her. It said something about Jesus' love for all children.
"Jesus loves you, right Sammy?"
"Do you love him too?"
"Well, sometimes. Mostly just on his birthday....I WUV Christmas!"
And then this afternoon....oh, I'm covered in goosebumps as I type!
A neighbor girl came over to show Sammy an Easter project she'd made. This little girl knows the Easter story in GRAPHIC detail. She and Samantha sat at the table while I worked in the kitchen, so I heard the whole exchange. The little girl told her all about the nails that were pounded through Jesus' hands and feet...about the crown of thorns jammed on his head...how Jesus was mocked and laughed at...about the spear that was thrust through his side and the resulting gush of water and blood that flowed out of him.
I finally had to step in and ask that some of the details be spared. Sammy's just 4 years old, and I didn't want her to be totally terrified!
But Sammy didn't seem phased. She looked on, wide eyed, and simply said "They KILLED him? Jesus is DEAD?!"
"No Sammy, that's the BEST part! He was dead, but then he came BACK alive and lives in Heaven right now!"
Samantha looked to me with questioning eyes.
"Yes," I said. "Jesus let them hurt him because he loves us very much. He decided to be punished so that we wouldn't have to be punished. It's sort of like Jesus sitting in time out for you so that you wouldn't have to. He sure loves you a lot!"
The little friend (who was clearly being used in a powerful way by God this afternoon while she sat at my table with her pretty brown hair cascading down her back) jumped in and said "Don't worry Sammy, Jesus is alive in Heaven right now. He died for our sins, so that we could go to Heaven someday too!"
Sammy's wide eyed response was, "He did that for ME?"
"He did," I said. "And if you want to, you can go to Heaven with Jesus some day. When you ask Jesus into your heart and life, Jesus comes to be with you forever. He'll even bring you to Heaven forever after your time here is done. Do you want Jesus to be with you and to bring you to Heaven with him some day?"
I was fully expecting a "no" or "not now" like she always said. But her blessedly simple response?
It was then that the theme song for Cailou erupted so rudely from the TV. The conversation was done as Sammy dashed into the living room to watch her favorite cartoon.
And then, about an hour later, after mac and cheese for lunch...Sammy was playing in the back yard. I was watching out of the corner of my eye, as I ate my lunch. Sammy and her friend hopped off the swings, made their way to the top of the swing set, and sat at the top quietly. They seemed to be having a pretty serious conversation. I had the passing thought, "I wonder what's going on up there?"
It was just a few minutes later that Sammy, her face glowing and her silky blonde curls bouncing in their pig-tails, came sprinting to the patio door to make her announcement:
"Mama! I asked Jesus to come be in my heart!"
I scooped her up in my arms, hugged her, and told her how brave she was....how proud of her I am. We called Daddy on the phone. We talked about Heaven and Jesus and how wonderful it will be to be there all together some day. We talked about how happy Jesus was to be welcomed into her life, and how angels were singing happy songs for her.
(After talking with the older child Sammy was playing with: Sammy had been telling her about what she'd learned of Jesus earlier in the day. Sammy said that she wanted Jesus in her heart. The friend offered to pray with her right then. They climbed up the top of the swing set, bowed their heads, and prayed together.)
My heart and soul are just filled to near bursting today! My baby girl...she's safe. Forever. Safe in his arms. I can't think of any place I'd rather she be.
Oh, Good Lord, thank you! Thank you for this little girl. Thank you for whispering into her heart and mind with that tender and loving voice of yours. Thank you for piercing her little shell with those bold and certain words of her Godly friend. Thank you, above all, for loving us all enough to save us - to sacrifice and endure so much - to give us this certainty of eternal safety. Thank you, Lord. Thank you for saving my little girl. Move powerfully in her life, and help her to be a mighty woman for you.
If you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it it with your mouth that you confess and are saved.