The kids and I have been talking a lot about Holy Spirit power lately to defeat the Evil Powers of Darkness led by their arch-enemy, Satan. I've been telling them (and I'm preaching to the choir here because I need the reminder too) that when we ask Jesus to forgive our sins and be the leader of our life, He promises to give us the Holy Spirit to live in us and guides us. So we go from being ordinary to extra-ordinary. We have Super Powers, just like Elasta-Girl and Mr. Incredible. The Holy Spirit give us power to defeat Satan by helping us be kind to each other, use nice words, be unselfish, patient, and want to serve each other instead of putting ourselves first. But we remain ordinary if we don't ask the Holy Spirit to use His power to help us make extra-ordinary, God-pleasing decisions. So we've been starting off our days asking the Holy Spirit to fill us up with His power to be more like Jesus in the way we think, act and speak.
Grant, Katie and Alli all prayed to ask Jesus to come and live in their lives some time around age 3 1/2 years. Each of their decisions were independent, sincere and not coerced by us. And it seemed to make a difference in their lives. They viewed their decisions differently and started owning their faith in Jesus Christ to the extent that a 3 year old can grasp what that looks like.
Last night, at bedtime, we were talking and getting ready for prayers. Holy Spirit power came up and Katie asked Paige, "Have you asked Jesus to come and live in your heart?" It spurred a great discussion about faith in Jesus, sin, our need for a Savior, and how cool having super-natural strength to make better decisions is. We asked Paige if she wanted to ask Jesus to be the Forgiver of her sins and the Leader of her life and she said yes. On her own she prayed, "Dear Jesus. Fank you for today and that we had SOOOOOOO much fun. Fank you dat you wuv me. Please come and live in my howt so dat I use nice words, don't hit people, and be a bobedient girl to Mommy and Daddy." Then with prompting from Katie and I, "I'm sorry for sinning. Please forgive me. Amen.
We threw a party and hooped and hollered and she ran and told Daddy and Grant and Alli about her big decision. And then put her to bed. Curt and I convened to talk some more. I practically grew up in the church, but sometimes putting faith into action is a stretch. We looked at each other and I couldn't help feeling a bit skeptical. How genuine can her decision be? After all, she's only 3, right? So we went to basis of all truth, God's Word, the Bible. What does God say is required to have Eternal Life? (all CAPS emphasis is mine).
I read John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." It doesn't specify an age. It says "whoever."
I read John 1:12, "Yet to ALL who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God."
II Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if ANYONE is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come." The promise of new life in Christ extends to ANYONE.
I read Acts 2:38, "Repent and be baptized, EVERY ONE OF YOU, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Our promise of forgiveness of sins and Holy Spirit power comes with no age, gender or race specifications.
I read similar accounts in Matthew 19 and Mark 10 where Jesus says, "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." Jesus went out of his way to use the trust of a child as an example of what he wants grown-up faith to look like. Free. Trusting. Giving Him everything.
I thought about Paige's prayer and knew it was genuine. Even at age 3, she knows her life is broken by sin. She hits people. She doesn't share. She uses unkind words. She doesn't obey. And she knows it's not okay. Her desire is to be kind. To share. To use nice words. To be "bobedient." And she knows Jesus can help her reach those goals. Forgive her sins. Transform her into the little girl she desires to be but can't be on her own strength. She gave Jesus her broken life and when she said "Amen," she had a new life. A transformed life.
The Bible says (Revelation 12:15) that God keeps a book called the Book of Life. In it He records the name of every person who has put their faith and trust in Jesus to forgive their sins and lead their lives. The Bible also says that every time a person asks Jesus to be their Savior, the angels throw a party in heaven to celebrate. So today, the Stilp's and the angels are partying. I can almost see "Paige Elizabeth Stilp" written in the Book of Life.