The conversation started with frustration as MJ, my three-year old, complained, “Why can’t Mommy put me to bed?”
“Because buddy, she’s downstairs resting.”
“But I don’t want you to put me down Daddy!” His 3-year-old temper was on the verge of a meltdown.
My reply was probably a little harsh.
“Well buddy, there are some little boys that don’t have a daddy, so we need to be thankful that we can spend some time together before we go to sleep.”
“What do you mean they don’t have a daddy?” His eyes narrowed.
I was caught. How could I explain this away?
“Matthew, sometimes mommies and daddies die or sometimes they might leave.”
“Leave?” His inquisitive nature always has the uncanny ability to trap me in my words and unravel my confidence in any subject. Searching for a quick out I took a different angle. “And that’s why we need to be thankful that we’re together buddy. Do you know what being thankful is?”
Feeling pretty good about my inquisitive reply, I thought I had bought myself some time. However, without a second’s hesitation, he says:
Where the heck did that come from? It was the last thing I expected him to say. As I paused, I thought about his answer and realized there was a lot of truth in his words.
“Well, actually buddy, that’s right! The Bible tells us to be thankful in all things. Do you know what the Bible is?”
“It’s God’s story Daddy!”
He was beginning to draw me in to a conversation I never saw coming. “You sure are smart! How did you know that?”
“I have a Bible over there,” pointing to his nightstand. “Read me a story.”
As I grabbed his oversized, white children’s Bible, I opened to the beginning. Illustrations of the sun, moon and stars littered the pages. We turned from the creation story to Adam and Eve, all the while, I’m shocked at his attentiveness.
“Why can’t we eat apples Daddy?” He questioned, pointing to an image of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Chuckling I said, “No, not all apples Matthew. God just asked Eve not to eat from that tree. When God asks us to do something, it’s called a sin when we disobey.”
“Sin?” His mind raced as he pondered the word. At that moment, it occurred to me that he had never heard it before.
“Sin is when we disobey and…”
“Like not listening?” He interrupted before I could finish and he was one step ahead of me. How did his little mind understand his own struggles as he associated them with sin? I was completely frozen for a few seconds as I tried to process all of this in my head. Not to mention, my spirit was racing inside of me.
“But you know the best part Matthew? God still loved Adam and Eve.”
“That’s right buddy. And do you know how God showed them that he loved them?” I was proposing my answer in my own mind when he blurted out:
“He saved the world Daddy.”
I was astonished that those words came from the mouth of my three-year-old son. At that moment, it felt like I wasn’t the one having this conversation after all. Physically I was, but it felt like the Holy Spirit was granting me encouragement as each word became more clear.
“Do you know how he saved the world Matthew?” At this point, I thought he might begin preaching the gospel himself, when he replied, “How Daddy?”
“He sent his Son. Do you know his Son’s name?”
I could see his wheels spinning.
“Jesus!” His smile accompanied his sense of pride.
“You’re exactly right buddy. God’s Son Jesus died to save the world.”
“Is he in Heaven Daddy?”
“Yes He is Matthew and the Bible tells us that if we believe God’s story and ask Jesus into our heart that we can go to Heaven too.”
I held it together as we finished our talk and I was deeply thankful.
And as MJ taught me, “thankful is loving God.”
That night, I was loving God for this three-year old blessing and the opportunity to talk with him about Jesus.
As a Christian, I’ve often wondered how my children would come to know the truth of the gospel. Quite honestly, I’m guilty at times of worrying if they ever would. If I’m brutally honest, the story is quite incomprehensible to me sometimes.
An all-loving, all-powerful God, taking the form of a man only to live perfectly and die as a sacrifice for our sins. Then, rising from the tomb, overcoming death to signify his promise to us: Hope, Salvation, and Eternal Life.
It’s quite the daunting storyline isn’t it?
I think, this is particularly why Jesus spoke of faith on such regular occasion. He needed it to carry out His act of love: His death on the cross.
He knew we would need it as well.
He knew that faith is often the biggest hurdle along the path to righteousness.
But not just any faith, that of a child.
“Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” Luke 18:17
I think our faith begins when we enter into the conversation like an inquisitive three-year old.
In fact, the moral of the story above:
It’s ok to ask your Father questions