Memory can be a very tricky thing. But there are some moments so permanently stitched into your mind that you can still see the furniture, see the people, hear the words and feel exactly as you felt when you heard them, or said them yourself.
The most painful one of mine is this: I was putting my oldest child to bed, hearing her say a little rote bless-mommy-and-daddy prayer. She was seven or eight. And she asked me, “Mommy, really, who WAS Jesus?” And I actually said to her, “Sweetheart, that is something you will have to decide when you are older.” She said, “But no, Mommy, I want you to tell me!” And I said, again, ”No, you will decide that for yourself later. Now go to sleep, precious, and sweet dreams.”
I was so proud of myself! I did not believe in child evangelism; I thought it was taking advantage of young minds. I was so woefully and ignorantly opinionated, so sure I was doing the absolute best thing. I was so wrong.
But then, over the years, one by one, all of the rest of our little family came to the Lord. Except this one. It seemed as though she had slipped through the cracks and was lost, and you can surely imagine the tears I shed as I replayed that night in my mind, over and over and over.
So now, we listen to advice about Faith Talks, and hear how other young parents do it so well and live the Gospel in their homes. But are any of you a little older now, with no children in your home anymore, and do you have children who are not walking with our Lord, and does this whole next-generation thing just fill you with sorrow because you believe you missed your chance?
I have an answer for you. PRAY. God really understands. He loves you so much, and He loves that child, and He hears that prayer.
Many, many years later, that same child was living a thousand miles away. She had experienced a painful divorce, and now had badly injured her right hand at work, and had had one finger removed. Her lower arm was in a cast while it was healing, and she couldn’t do much for herself, so she came home for a few weeks. This was after all the rest of us were finally true Christians, and one Sunday night I really, really wanted her to come to church because I knew what the subject matter was going to be, and I was sure – (of course I knew best!) – that God wanted her to hear it! But she was at her brother’s house for dinner, and those wretched children never showed up at church at all! I was SO mad at all of them!
BUT GOD ……. oh, those two sweet, sweet words! ……. but God had other plans. While I was at church, steaming about my miserable children, my son and his wife were still at his house, leading my beloved daughter to the Lord! We lived at the shore, and she wanted to be baptized immediately, so she was --- in the ocean, with her bandaged right arm sticking up out of the waves!
Don’t give up. God knows that where you were then was not where you are now. He loves you, more than you can possibly understand. Pray, pray, pray. And pray too for the younger parents who are hearing these messages now, that they would believe that they can do this with their children, and that it will make all the difference in their lives, and their children’s lives, and the lives of those to come.