We all love to see “before and after” photos. Dowdy to beautiful make-overs, overweight to healthy dieters, and of course, messy to neat organizing. Photos like these are inspiring! (I usually forget to take the “before” photos, but even the “after” photos make me happy—hence the picture of my make-up drawer.)
In the Christian world, there’s another kind of “before and after” that gets a lot of attention. It’s the three-part testimony: what our lives were like before Christ, how we accepted Christ, and how our lives have changed after Christ.
Hear me when I say this, Friends: stories of God’s work in people’s lives are amazing and I’ll never, ever tire of these eternally significant before-and-afters! When I hear a testimony, I celebrate with the angels! I say, “Amen!”
But when I get asked to tell or write my three-part testimony, I sigh and try not to get defensive. Why? I simply don’t have a three-part story to tell.
When I was in fifth grade, I went to a church camp where they did a campfire “altar call.” The head counselor told us that it didn’t matter if our parents had raised us to believe in God, we had to ask Christ into our hearts in order to be saved and go to Heaven. Otherwise we were going to Hell.
This was true as far as it went, but it scared young me to death. I had never uttered those special words—was I in danger of Hell? I went straight to the front and breathlessly prayed something to the effect of,
I waited for the special feeling that I was “saved” to wash over me. All I felt was foolish.
I went back to my cabin, laid down on my bunk, and apologized to Jesus. Even at ten years old, I knew better than this. I knew Jesus lived in my heart and that I was living my life for Him. I was headed straight for Heaven and I absolutely knew it. I’d let someone else tell me it wasn’t so because I hadn’t had a “special moment.”
As an adult, I’ve had several people, including a pastor, look me straight in the eye and say I’m in danger of Hell because I can’t pinpoint a time that I “asked Jesus into my heart.” I try to explain that I don’t remember a time when Jesus wasn’t there. I grew up knowing Him and loving Him and relying on Him.
And I think that’s a beautiful testimony.
I hope my kids will have similar testimonies. I hope they don’t have terrible “befores” when they’re living so far from God that their hearts are broken. I’ll be happy for them if they have special moments of asking Christ into their hearts, and I’ll be just as happy for them if they grow up with the knowledge that He’s already there. I hope they’re already living the “after.”
Parents and grandparents and uncles and aunts and beloved friends, hear me when I say this, too: our children can have the beautiful testimonies of wholeheartedly loving Christ from a young age.
Yes, they’ll have immature faiths; they’ll grow in knowledge and understanding. Yes, they’ll have times when they’re walking incredibly close to Him and times when they’re more distant from their Father—we all do. They’ll sin and need forgiven again and again, that’s the Christian life.
But it’s a lie that our kids have to learn “the hard way” that they need Christ, or that they’ll necessarily go through a time of rebellion from the faith.
As parents and loved ones, we can have an incredible impact on the faith lives of our children. We can help to build their firm foundation in the Lord. Our kids’ hearts are their own, but we can encourage and support their young faiths.
That’s is the reason why I wrote the Your Free Guide to A Vibrant Family Faith, and the reason I offer it for free: I just want you to get it, to use it! I’ve loved doing all of these things with my kids—praying with them, being in the word with them, being excited about the Lord with them!— and I think you’ll love doing them with yours.
Lies to fight: My kids have to find faith on their own. Or, the church is responsible for teaching my kids about faith, not me. Or, I’m scared that no matter what I do, my kids will fall away from God in high school or college.
My child can have the beautiful testimony of ever-present faith.
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5
What are you doing to support your child’s faith today?
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