Audrey has always been my Sunshine, but is the only one who will sometimes turn down her chance to pray at night with me, saying that she doesn’t really want to. I have never pressed or forced her, I have let her choose not to. I just prayed over her, loved her, and accepted her choice. She has seemed close at times to asking Jesus into her heart when she does pray, but has always refrained from doing so. I have not worried (much), understanding that everyone has to walk on their own two feet into the nail-scarred hands of Christ (or not), by their own will; I have prayed almost daily for her salvation. I have often thought that, of any of my four children, she is the one who might wait until the last moment possible to open her heart to God.
I was wrong.
Today, during lunch, the conversation turned to questions about heaven and hell, Jesus and our enemy. I told them that when Jesus comes back, that the devil and hell are going to be thrown into the lake of fire, never to be able to harm anyone again. That Jesus is going to create a new heaven and earth, where he will live with all of those who love him.
Audrey piped up and declared brightly, “Well, I love him!”
“You do?” I said.
“Would you like to ask Jesus to come live in your heart forever, since you love him?” I asked her.
“He’s already in my heart, because I pray a lot, Mommy,” she giggled at me.
So I clarified for her that yes, Jesus hears the prayers of children, and loves her very much, but that he will only come to live in her heart if she wants him to, and invites him herself. I asked her again if she would like to pray and do that.
After a moment’s consideration, “Mommy, I think I want YOU to.”
Then, it dawned on me. She hasn’t been resistant to the Gospel – just bashful about praying by herself. Makes sense to me, knowing her little personality. The thought of praying out loud, by herself, intimidates her a little, apparently. So, I offered to pray with her, allowing her to repeat after me. I told her that she didn’t have to, because it’s her heart and her decision. She nodded yes, that she really did want to.
So, I took my 5-year-old daughter’s hands in mine, and led her in a prayer asking for God’s forgiveness, and inviting him to come and live in her heart and do his will in her life.
I wept and held her.
I asked her: “Did you mean those words in your heart, or did you just pray to make mommy happy?”
Without a moment’s hesitation or thought, she said, “I meant them in my heart, mommy,” her arms tightly around my neck.
“Then the Bible says that Jesus lives in your heart, and nothing can ever separate you from him, and he is now getting a special place ready for you to live with him forever in heaven!” The tears streamed down my face, and I could barely talk. I can tell she sensed the sacredness of the moment. Time stood still. Right there at my lunch table, with her mac ‘n cheese only half-eaten.
The Holy Spirit descended on my home, and brought peace with him.
My Audrey Hope now has everlasting hope.
And I cannot tell you how thankful I am.
I still have a strong feeling that this precious red head of mine is going to go through her own fires that I will be powerless to put out. My heart aches for that time, but I no longer worry that the fires will burn her. She will be refined, and come out of the other side fully renewed and vibrantly golden.
My Sunshine belongs to the Son forever. He has sealed her on his arm.
She will never be the same.
And neither will I.
People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.
~Matthew 10:13-16 (NIV)