December 18, 2011
(I am dating this because I am going to delay posting)
After Audrey died we listened to the Selah CD quite a bit because we all loved hearing the "Carry You" song, as Ella put it. The first song on the CD is "Into my heart, Into my heart, Come Into my heart, Lord Jesus..." And the words to this song always led to questions from Ella. She often would look to the sky and say, "Jesus, please come into my heart." But I would always ask her about it and knew that she did not fully understand the meaning behind asking Jesus to come into her heart, save her from her sins, and take her to live in heaven with Him one day. So I would answer questions as they came and assure her that when the day comes that she truly understands then she will know she is ready for this decision.
As a parent, my greatest desire is for my children to make the decision to accept God's gift of salvation and choose to follow Him in every area of their lives. As a young 5-year-old I told my parents I wanted to be saved and my Dad led me to the Lord. However, as a 13-year-old giving my testimony in youth group, and later telling my mom what I had said, I realized my memory of being saved was not what had happened that night when I was 5. I have never doubted that as a 5-year-old I truly believed in Jesus and knew that He died for me. But I was not sure I had completely understood giving my life to Him. So that night, when I was 13 I made sure of my salvation -- in my bed, just me and God talking. And I have never once thought again about whether I knew for sure. I can even remember during those years, before that night in youth group, having fear that the Rapture would take place and I would be left behind. But after I made sure in my own heart, I have never doubted again. But my story has made me cautious about how much I urge Ella to make a decision - in fact, I probably have put it off perhaps more than I should have.
Over the past couple of months Ella has often brought up questions about hell and heaven and trusting Jesus as her Savior. I am sure they have spoken of it often in her classes at church, and when she asks questions I do my best to explain to her in a way she can understand. After all, childlike faith is what we are expected to have when it comes to accepting God's gift of salvation. We can't figure it out, we can't make sense of it, and we can't justify it. God just wants us to take it, believe it, and accept Him as the One and Only way to live with Him forever.
If you have read my blog lately, you will know that recently Taylor, Ella's very good friend, accepted this gift of Salvation. This past Wednesday at church I told Taylor how happy I was about her decision, and Ella heard me telling her and she told me she accepted Jesus as her Savior too. I avoided the subject with Ella, thinking perhaps she wanted the praise as well. But later, when we were driving in the van, I asked Ella about it. She told me that she asked Jesus to be her Savior at school. Of course the conversation was back and forth with me asking lots of questions, but Ella told me that they were doing balancing at school, pretending to be on a really high beam. And she was thinking about what would happen if she fell and got hurt, or if she died. So after they were done balancing she praying during study time and asked Jesus to come into her heart so if she ever died she would go to heaven. She still had the idea that you have to be good to go to heaven, and that bad people will go to hell. So I told her that when she wants me to I would read some verses in the Bible that would help me explain it to her.
On Friday I was honored to spend the morning at school with Ella for their Christmas party. Afterward we went and finished some Christmas shopping. When we were leaving the Dollar store Ella said, "Can we get a balloon for Audrey?" I told her we needed to but we'll wait until we are headed out to see her grave. Ella said, "Speaking of Audrey, we haven't gone to see her in a LONG TIME!"
Today after church and shortly after we pulled out of the parking lot (even before she thought of what she was going to eat at McDonald's!), Ella said, "Can we go get a balloon and take it to Audrey? We haven't seen her in a long time." So of course I told her we would. We ate some lunch, stopped to get a balloon and then went to the cemetery. This was also the first time Levi had been there, so it was a special time.
As usual, Ella looked over Audrey's grave stone, checked out the flowers, which looked pretty good she informed me. Hugged the grave stone, told Audrey she loves her, and just sat there tracing the letters to Audrey's name. Then we headed back to the van, but she wanted to stop and see Kyler's grave. She looked at it, then I told her to come get in the van, and she turned and softly said, "Can I hug his stone?"
This may come as strange to some who have not had to experience death, especially with someone as young as Ella. But it is pretty normal to us. Most of us get to see, talk to, and hug those we love on a daily basis. And in this case it makes sense to Ella to talk to Audrey when we go to her grave. She knows the part of Audrey that is alive is with Jesus and that her body is what is in the grave.
When we got back in the van the questions started again. This time she was asking if Audrey was in the ground or in heaven. So I began to explain ~ in 5-year-old words ~ about the rapture. I told her that Audrey's body is in the ground but she is with Jesus and when he comes to take all of us home -- if we know him as our Savior (and that since Audrey died when she was a baby she was too young to understand how to accept Jesus the way we do when we get old enough) -- that her body will rise from the ground and the rest of us who are still alive and know Jesus as our Savior will meet them in the air. I asked her if she wanted me to show her some verses that talk about it. "Yes! she said," and as I opened my Bible she added, "I love to hear verses about Jesus!"
I read verses from the Romans road, told her how Jesus only had to die once to save everyone from their sins, and that he died for her just like he died for me. I told her how He just wants us to believe and trust Him to get to heaven, and how we are saved by grace. We can't do anything to get to heaven, and we don't go to hell because we are bad. We even talked about how bad people can go to heaven - and I told her about the two thieves on the crosses next to Jesus who were very bad men, but one trusted Jesus as his Savior and the Bible tells us that he was in heaven with Jesus that night. Then I asked her if she would like to do that...
"I already did," she said, with emphasis. So I went back to the questions - and she told me the exact same story. She accepted Jesus as her Savior when she was at school, they were doing the balancing and she wanted to make sure that if she every got hurt or died that she would go to heaven. And that during their study time she prayed and asked Jesus to come into hear heart, that she believes He is her Savior, and that she wants to live in heaven when she dies.
"OK!!!" I said with a smile. At this point I could not really doubt her any more. I asked her more questions to the point that she said, "I already told you, Mommy." She knows what she did, and I believe she understands it.
When Ella has shared her news, then I will share my blog post.