Blooming

Chloe and her teacherI watched my little girl, Chloe, graduate kindergarten today. This may not be such a big deal to some parents, but to me, this was a huge celebration. Kindergarten wasn’t so easy for us. Watching her walk across the stage with her face beaming reminded me of how great it feels to accomplish something really hard. Sure, it is always exciting to complete a project or finish a race, but when that accomplishment was riddled with opposition, it makes the victory so much sweeter.

The Bible tells us in Romans 5:3-5 that we should “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” I truly saw this development take place this year within my child’s heart.

In the midst of adversity, it is all we can do to persevere. Most of the time we can not even see what is beyond the suffering. It is all we can do to muster enough strength to make it one more day or to finish one more step. But, in the midst of this God is busy building character within us. We arise from our suffering stronger and wiser than we ever were before. We believe that if God carried us through that, then we can make it through anything. Our hope is ever more so in Him.

Today we looked back and saw mountain behind us, one that we didn’t even realize was there. We knew we were walking uphill. We felt the heat, the exhaustion and the sore muscles. We continued to put one foot in front of the other, and God shielded the distance from our eyes. It was only until we conquered the summit and headed downhill, that we realized what heights we had climbed.

My baby girl is going to have to climb more mountains in her life. There will be many more struggles and hardships that come her way. My involvement will get smaller and smaller, but I know that she will not be climbing all alone. She has a trusted Savior, and He is her champion.  He will walk with her, carry her, and guide her along the way. But, for today, we will pause in her life journey, and take the time to stop and look back. We will celebrate this one mountain. We will praise the One that carried her over it, and the One who gave her the strength to endure it. We will admire her new muscles and her renewed hope. We will mark this occasion and will remember it always as the day we saw Chloe bloom.

Too Young To Believe?

I have recently watched a stream of young people walk boldly down the aisle and give their lives to Christ. I have carefully examined their joyful expressions as they anticipated the cool baptismal waters. Last year, my oldest daughter was one of them.
Chloe's Baptism
In April 2008, my daughter, Chloe, expressed to me that she was ready to open the door of her heart and that Jesus had been knocking. She was only 5 years old, and so my husband and I thought we should wait. She was too young. Or was she? It wasn’t long before she was adamant about it, and so after ensuring that she knew all the right answers, we prayed with her to receive Christ in her heart.  She spoke to the children’s minister, and a few weeks later, she was baptized.

I knew that some in the church would question it. I’ve seen other children as young as Chloe make this decision, and I’ve heard the skeptics, but I am thankful that most people were very excited for her.  I also came to know the Lord at a very young age. Although I do not know the exact date and time, I remember walking forward at a summer VBS, being only around five years old.

We should not question God’s call on our children. When it is His timing, it is His timing, and we are in no position to question it. A few months after receiving His spirit, Chloe began school, and also became afflicted with a severe form of psoriasis. School was very trying for her, and her health was not well. She was embarrassed about her skin disorder, and she hated school. We got through it, and she is doing well now, but those were very hard days for her. Looking back, I know why God called her to Himself. He knew that she would need His indwelling Holy Spirit to give her peace and faith. I can also look back at trying times in my own childhood and remember feeling His presence at a very young age. I have no doubt that He called Chloe and me at the appropriate time.

Of course, children this young do not completely understand all the theology surrounding the cross, the trinity, and all the complicated theological matters involved. But, do any of us really? Don’t we all just have understanding at whatever level we are at? In Luke 10:21, Jesus exclaims, “I praise you Father of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father this was for your good pleasure.” I believe that the Father finds great joy when one of His children comes to accept him without doubting and questioning.

Around the time my oldest daughter was baptized, we had lived in our new home for almost a year. My new sink suddenly began to drain a lot slower than it had previously. It was an illustration for me of how as we get older, doubts and questions begin to clog our hearts, making it more difficult to freely accept Him. Little children do not have these doubts. They are like newly cleaned drains. Their hearts are not clogged. They just simply accept His love.

So, are they too young? Jesus didn’t think so. This is just another example of how His ways are higher than ours. All we are asked to do is simply believe, and our children seem to accept this. As they grow, we should teach them and disciple them, always telling them the story of the day they chose to answer God’s call. They may not have vivid memories of the moment, but we can encourage them and remind them. We all have a testimony that no one can argue with, and this is the beginning of theirs.