As we were reading the story of Lazarus during school on March 14, 2011, Hadley made the decision for Christ.
It went like this...
We were at the part where Lazarus had already died. Jesus had taken His sweet time about getting there and of course by the time He did arrive, Lazarus had been dead for 4 days. And his sisters were very, very sad...not only with Lazarus' passing, but with disappointment and heartbreak in Jesus' actions. They had been friends. Why didn't He come? Why didn't He heal and save?
Jesus got there and our Bible storybook reads like this:
To comfort her Jesus said, "Your brother will rise again."
"I know he will be resurrected in the last day," she answered.
At that point, I explained to the kids that she thought He meant just that her brother, Lazarus, would be raised only when all are raised...when they go to heaven and live with God there. I explained how everyone who has made the decision to live for Jesus all of their days here on earth, really making Him their boss and giving Him control of their lives, really asking Him for wisdom in how to live their lives and what He wants them to do every second of every day...they are the ones who are raised and go to live with God in heaven. We talked about the ones who don't follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives when He is prompting them to make that decision...and the life that they live here on earth that can sometimes be still a good life, but it is not abundant and not full and doesn't include God's peace or guidance. And, that when they die, it is very tragic and very sad...and they don't get to go to heaven, but will spend forever in hell with the enemy, who does not comfort.
Sidenote: I'm not a dramatic person in general. But especially with things like this, I just present the facts...in a very factual tone of voice (not monotone and with expression, but no hype or sensationalism) and never harping on things. It is not my job to coax my children, or anyone else, into a relationship with or decision for Christ. That is the job of the Holy Spirit and that person responding to the Holy Spirit. Just to clarify. :)
So I explained that Martha thought that Jesus was talking about that...and how Lazarus had made the decision for Christ, so he would be raised to live in heaven.
At that point, Hadley asked a couple of questions about Lazarus and what he had done, the decision he had made. I made it very clear that Lazarus made this decision because he loved the Lord and because he wanted to live all of his days living for Him, working for Him, serving Him, asking Him what to do with his life, what His plans were for him.
Hadley said, very matter-of-factly, but full of excitement and certainty on her face, "Well, I want to do that."
I asked her a few questions to make sure she understood exactly what she was doing. She did. And so, she did just that.
All of this conversation was going on with Grady sitting between us. I love that boy. He is not a conformist, that is for sure. I just asked him, "Grady, what do you think about all of this? Do you want to do this too?" He simply said, "Not now. I'm not ready." :) Love it. I am quite sure that one day it will be his time (God's time for him), but I'm so thankful that he will not do it just because others are. He will not be moved, even by his little sister 'beating him to' something. Great quality.
So, I led Hadley in a prayer and she prayed. And she was just beside herself after that. She was trying to pay attention to the rest of the Lazarus story and our other school books after that, but I kept looking over to find her with a huge smile on her face and shaking with excitement. Haha. Too cute. She kept saying, "Ahh, I'm so excited. I'm saved!"
I remember that feeling well. The initial feelings right after you make your decision for Christ. That wash and flood of excitement and relief. I remember after I 'walked the aisle' on a Monday night of revival (preached by Bro. Doyle McGrew) at Briarwood Baptist Church in Readhimer, Louisiana, May 1982. :) Our friend, Rebekah, looked over at me as she was talking to someone about something else. Apparently I had that same smile that Hadley had. Rebekah said, "Feels good dudnit?" (that's Southern for "doesn't it") And it did.
Hadley has been excited ever since. She went around for days, and still sometimes even now, proclaiming "I'm saved! Oh, I'm so excited that I'm a Christian!" Every now and then she would get mixed up with the words and say, "I'm a missionary!" :) Which, we do live as missionaries in a foreign land. But, I didn't correct her. Because as Christians, we are all missionaries, wherever you live, wherever you work, whoever you are with.
Shortly after that day, she finished up her 'reading lesson' for this year. She learned to read and after they finish up learning to read, they get a Bible. We put the message in it that that is the most important book they will ever read. She is in love with her Bible. She can be found on the couch, before anyone else gets out of bed in the morning, reading her Bible. She is constantly asking us to read it with her.
She also is on the lookout for God in all things. Yesterday she came in and said that she saw 'God birds.' If you call them in a certain way, the birds ("and all animals actually" she said) come to her and all the ones that come with that certain call she does are Godly. :) I asked her how she knew that. "Because God told me." I just now went outside to ask her about it again to make sure I had my story straight and what did I find her doing? The same thing again. And this time she was in the middle of teaching Eissa how to do it too. :) She said, "Come on, Mama. You need to try this. It's incredible."
Are they really 'God birds?' I don't know. But, God said to be like a little child. She definitely has child-like faith. And that? That's a good thing. She is looking for Him in EVERYthing. She is constantly praying and constantly looking. And that's the Holy Spirit leading...not anything we as her parents have told her to do. We've taught her the Biblical principles of doing those things, but we haven't ever said, "Go pray." She's doing it. She's listening to the leading of God.
I posted on Facebook a few days ago that one day she didn't eat her lunch. The rule here is that if you don't eat your lunch, you don't get a snack...and then you eat that lunch for supper (and then breakfast if you don't eat it at supper...you get the idea...it usually ends at supper though:) ). I was giving out snacks that day and forgot about Hadley not eating her lunch. She forgot too. They took their snacks outside and a few seconds later Hadley came in and put her snack back on the counter. She casually said, "I didn't eat my lunch" and started walking away. I thanked her for being honest and she said, "Well, God told me. Thank Him." :) She is listening for God's reminders of things, His leading. Soooo great to watch in your kids.
She is still learning what it means to be saved. For instance, that it doesn't mean that you are perfect. When she makes a wrong choice, it grieves her. A good thing. But, a couple of times she's said through tears, "I'm not saved. I can't be saved. I keep doing wrong things." :) She is learning about still being saved and the power of forgiveness. But, I am glad that making wrong choices grieves her. Oh that we would all react that way!
She can't wait to be baptized (yet to be determined when and how that will happen). And last night at the Easter service at Asas de Socorro, she participated in her first communion. She was beside herself. :) And so thankful for all that it signifies. We said a little prayer together before she ate the bread (way before the guy said to...hahaha) and grape juice. Then she hugged me in excitement. :) Special that it worked out that her first communion happened at Easter time.
So, that's how it went down and how things have progressed since. SO FUN to watch Hadley growing in the things of God. And really fun to gently guide and steer her along in it all. Parenting is great!
Reading her last 'reading lesson.' :) GREAT day! ;)
"What is it?!?"
The siblings excited about Hadley's Bible.