I want to take a few moments of your time to share with you the thoughts and questions Isaiah posed over the last week or two before coming up to this moment. And, in doing so, I hope that you will be encouraged and challenged in your own faith.
About a week or two ago, more purposeful conversations started after I read a story to both Isaiah and Samuel about the Parable of the Hidden Treasure (Matthew 13:44) from "The Jesus Storybook Bible". At the end of the story, the author wrote that God is the treasure of ultimate value, and then the author also said that God's children are of great value to God. The way it was worded caused Isaiah to say (with a general excitement), "Is that us?! Is that us?!" So, I sat down and I asked him if he had trusted Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He said he hadn't done that yet. That night, we talked about what we deserve. I even talked about hell (that it is a very sad place where we will never be with God). He teared up because he didn't want to be away from mommy and daddy. I pushed that thought some and told him that it would be sad to be away from mommy and daddy, but God is the most important. He then quickly defended that thought by agreeing that God is the most important, but he just doesn't want to be away from us. We continued to talk, but then the conversation changed to something completely different. I said goodnight and let him drift off into sleep.
The next night, I told another story. Isaiah and I talked again. But, quickly, the conversation went off to something else regarding toys (or something like that). Again, I stopped the conversation and let him go to sleep.
Finally, we get to last night. I read the story of Jesus' death. While reading the story, I said that Jesus cried out "Daddy! . . . Daddy!" And, the author's words were something like, "and for the first and the last time, God didn't answer." At that point, Isaiah asked why that happened. I told him I'd explain in a little bit. I went on in the story. The story said that God's fierce anger rested on Jesus so that he could take our punishment for us.
After reading the story, I sat next to Isaiah and explained things. I told him that we deserve to be punished for our sin. I reminded him of hell. I also told him again that Jesus wanted to take our punishment because he loves us and he wants us to know how awesome God is. Isaiah acknowledged these things and he also acknowledged he couldn't rescue himself. And, he even went so far as to say that he couldn't turn away from his sins. But, he also said he didn't sin all the time. To the points about sin, I asked him if he thought he loved God like he should all of the time. He said he doesn't. But, I also told him that even for the people who trust in Jesus, we sin, but God always takes care of us and he says he'll never let us go. To that, Isaiah said, "Ooooooh!" (the idea that God was always there seemed to cause Isaiah comfort) In the midst of the conversation, Isaiah asked, "Why is God and Jesus so hard to understand?" He was referencing the Trinity. He doesn't get how Jesus is God and how God the Father is God. At that point I simply said that God is different from us. He's not like humans. Isaiah took the answer by faith and we moved on.
Finally, after these things (and maybe a few more issues), I asked Isaiah if he wanted to trust Jesus. He didn't hesitate. I did a brief review and then I said, "How could you show that you trust Jesus to forgive you?" His answer: to obey. Obviously that is correct, but I thought it would be good if he acknowledged it verbally in prayer to God; so, I suggested that. He was willing, but he said, "Daddy, could you help me?" And, that led us to pray together.
From this, what can we, as adults, learn? Here are a few that jump out to me:
- Do you have doctrinal questions that seem to dog you? If so, do they limit your ability to really trust God? What I love is that Isaiah asked the question about the Trinity (which he has asked before), but that doesn't stop him from believing the truth of it. And, it didn't hinder him from trusting Jesus - which too often it does that for both believers and unbelievers.
- We need to acknowledge that sin has grave consequences, but Jesus took our punishment so we can be friends with God. While I tell Isaiah (a five year-old) about these things, he doesn't see a contradiction in the character of God. Instead, he might be confused, but he also sees great love. This is the gospel! Do you see and savor God's love in this?
- We sin all the time, but that should never keep us from going to Jesus. As Spurgeon once said, "God is more willing to forgive you than you are ready to sin" (paraphrase). Do you know that? Do you believe that? Even though we might feel like we can't stop sinning, like Isaiah said, that shouldn't stop us from running to Christ for his grace and mercy.
- God will never let you go. If you have trusted in Jesus, God will never let you go. Psalm 25:8, "Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way." Do you qualify for God to show his goodness and justice to you? We all do! And, for God's children, nothing will separate his goodness and justice towards you (Romans 8:35-39).
Where do you find yourself today? Are you an unbeliever - focusing on all the seeming contradictions in the Scripture? Are you a believer and doubting God and his love? Wherever you find yourself today, Jesus has what you need. He says this, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).