When my youngest daughter was only 5, we took our family swimming. Our beach is ideal for young families. You have to walk at least a hundred feet before the water gets deep enough to actually swim. It’s perfect for young ones to splash and play in.
On this particular day, Mike and I went out a little deeper as our kids played near the shore. Within a split second our lives could have drastically changed. We looked over to see our youngest bobbing up and down right next to the shoreline, an area where the depth of water doesn’t even reach my knees. How could this be?
She was drowning.
We never moved so quickly. Praise God, we got to her in time. Somehow right next to the shoreline there was a large hole that she had waded into. Later that night, after we were all in bed she came down to our bedroom and told us that if she had died she knew she would’ve gone to hell and she wanted to ask Jesus to save her right then. And we knew she knew.
Even at such a young age, she understood sin. She understood she needed Jesus. There was no prompting. It was of her own free will.
There are so many beautiful moments when you’re a mom, but there are also a lot of hard aspects too. From the moment they are born, if your child has been raised going to church and hearing the gospel, I think one of the hardest aspects for parents is concern for their child’s soul.
I didn’t grow up knowing Christ. I grew up with religion and rules. I didn’t have an intimate relationship with Jesus until I was 12. It was different for my children. They grew up hearing about Jesus, their beautiful Savior, from day one. It was talked about often.
And that’s where it gets hard. As a parent, you don’t want your child to make a decision just to please mom and dad; nor do you want them to make a decision because it’s what they’re taught, thinking it’s just what they’re supposed to do. You want their repentance and salvation to come out of a genuine heart that understands they’re a sinner that needs a Savior.
Every child is different. Some just seem to grasp that at an early age and others don’t get it for a long time. And that’s when the worry sets in. Mamas KNOW when they’re child understands sin. It comes naturally to them (and us 😉). There’s no mistaking it. And then you begin to wonder, what if something happens to my child and they don’t know Jesus??
I also understand that heaven can be so alluring to a child. I mean, what kid wants to go to hell? That’s incredibly scary. At such a tender age of 5, I’m sure that was a scary thought for my daughter. There’s so many things young children don’t quite grasp when they’re little, but with age comes growth.
Here’s the thing about God and His promises to us~ whether you are 5 or 95, you will always be growing in your walk with the Lord. Not once does He tell us that we have to understand the weight of every single thing the Bible teaches before we can accept His free gift of salvation. God simply tells us to have the faith of a child.
Matthew 18:3-4, 2 Peter 3:9
So what is a parent or grandparent supposed to do? I’m not claiming to be an expert, far from it. But here are some things to keep in mind through your parenting journey as you introduce your children to Jesus. I pray that they can be an encouragement to you.
1. Pray for your children without ceasing. I Thessalonians 5:16-18
2. Talk about Jesus and His gift to us often. Ephesians 2:8, John 21:25
3. Make sure they understand that this isn’t religion, this is Jesus you are talking about. Their Father, their Savior and their very best Friend. 2 Corinthians 1:3, Philippians 3:10
4. I cannot stress this enough~ make Jesus real to your children!! Don’t just introduce them to your “way of life”, introduce them to the God of the Bible. The same Jesus who has radically changed your life. Make Him real to them by example. Titus 3:4-8
5. Don’t try to allure them with a “free ticket to heaven” speech. Salvation is so much more than that. Salvation is Jesus. Hebrews 2:9
6. Don’t use fear as a tactic for conversion. Jesus death on the cross had nothing to do with fear and everything to do with love. There is no fear in love. I John 4:18
7. Don’t pressure your child to make a decision or force them to say some “magic words” that they hope will get them into heaven.
8. Help them to understand that it isn’t the words they say as they pray, it’s a repentant heart that understands their sin and need of saving. Acts 3:19
9. Understand what it means in your own life to have the faith of a child, and then do just that. Have faith as a child. Don’t make salvation complicated in your mind, or in theirs. Believe what Jesus says in His word, that if we confess and we believe~ we will be saved. It’s as simple as that. Don’t add to it or make it hard. I John 1:9, Romans 10:9-10
10. And then pray some more. As a mama and grandma, you can never, ever pray too much for your children and grandchildren.
Only God knows our hearts. Only God knows your child’s heart. Don’t try to work out their salvation for them. As hard as it is not to intervene and worry and nag, remember all power and mercy, love and forgiveness comes only from God.
And always remember, God’s love for your children and His care for their souls is infinitely greater than your own. You do your part in being that example to your children and leave the rest with Him.