Yesterday and today I had some treasured conversations with my 3 year old son.
As he climbed around on my lap and feet during his sister's gymnastics class, he suddenly looked at me and said, "Can we pray for God to safe me?"
"What do you mean, Kiddo? You want to ask Him to keep you safe?"
"No, to safe me."
"To save you?"
"Yeah, so He'll pull me up to the sky when I die."
Wow, that came out of no where. We talked a bit, and then he wandered off to some other topic.
Today, again, he spontaneously asked me, "Mom, I want to pray now so that God will pull me up to the sky." I had too quickly forgotten the previous day's conversation and thought he wanted God to make him fly. After a little clarification I realized that his heart had a much more serious goal in mind.
We talked about his naughtiness and God's love and sacrifice. Obviously words like substitutionary atonement and justification did not enter the conversation, but those deep topics wove in and out of our questions and answers.
I asked if he had ever been naughty. He said, "Yes, when I pinched Faith." Yeah, he nailed that one, no explanation needed there. I explained that God was never naughty, and He can't let naughty people into heaven to live with Him forever.
He knew what I meant. He said he wanted to go though. And I let him in on a precious secret. He could go, God wants him there! God still had to punish someone though for his sins.
Nathan pipes up, "So, He decided to punish Himself for my naughties?"
"Why do you say that?"
"Well, Jesus died on the cross for my sins." A phrase that rolls so quickly off a Sunday Schooled tongue even at the tender age of three, but this time he savored the words as he fit them into our present conversation.
"So, what should you do now?"
"I think you should pray for me."
"Sorry, sweetheart, this is a prayer that you must say for yourself."
We talked about what he needed to understand and express to God in prayer, and boiled it down to three things:
- Tell God you know you are naughty
- Tell God you know He punished Jesus in your place when He died and rose again (he said, "turned back into a normal person.")
- Tell God you want Him to be in charge of your life now.
He prayed. In his own sweet, innocent words, He prayed. He acknowledged in that precious way that only a child can that he needed forgiveness. He prayed longer than he ever has for a meal or bedtime. He thanked God for all He had done for him, and thanked Him for promising to pull him up to the sky. After 'Amen' he gave me a big hug and said he was glad that he would be in heaven with me and Daddy forever, and get to see God and talk to Him for real.
That wasn't the end. It is only the beginning. Less than two hours later he argued with his sister, and I pulled him aside and reminded him that he said God was in charge now. He knew. He kept his hands to himself, for now.
I know many more conversations will follow, many questions, much growth. But, for now, I revel in the experience, and the tiny heart seeking real truth.
Looking for resources to help your little ones understand the gospel message?
Child Evangelism Fellowship has a Wordless Book online.
The online version of 1-800-Need Him has some pages especially geared toward children.
One of my biggest tips is don't ask yes-no questions. Kids tend to be either argumentative or people-pleasers so you often won't get genuine answers. Make them think and express things in their own words.
Any other stories to share of precious talks with kids about topics that seem too big for them? Any further advice for sharing deep Biblical truths with young children? I'd love to hear.