My two oldest boys responded to an invitation to “cross the line” from death to life at the Easter services. A number of people saw them since it was the first Easter service, and they were first up on stage. During the night, I couldn’t sleep. I was thinking about what the boys had just done and jotted down a few thoughts. Here are many of those middle of the night ramblings.
Easter weekend, which means 11 services at the Old Mill and Online Campuses. We went to the first one last night. Jana and me, along with Liam and Duncan. I went because it’s nice to go with family, and there is something about being in the room where all your senses are enveloped by the experience. I also knew there was a good chance that Liam would respond to Mark’s invitation at the end of the message to “cross the line” from death to life.
I’ve never prayed a salvation prayer with the boys, but they have always responded to Jesus. They love him and pray to him. To their fullest capacities, they follow Jesus. They love, they forgive, they confess, they share, they give, they help, they pray. I’ve watched their faith grow and deepen while maintaining the childlike innoncence. It’s been wonderful to watch, and there have been many moments along the way where it has been inspiring.
The concepts, ideas…truths of Jesus and eternal life have always been a part of the boys’ lives. As Duncan said during the service last night, “I’ve trusted Jesus all my life!” Indeed they have, but there are markers along the way that symbolize points on this journey.
One thing Liam has asked me from time to time is how we know for sure that he is going to Heaven. You would think these would be the opportunities to pray a stereotypical sinner’s prayer with him, but I have yet to do that. We talk through it, and I usually ask him some questions. “Do you love Jesus? You love others and want to help them, what makes you want to do that? Why do you pray? Why did Jesus come into this world? What can you tell me about Jesus?” This and more, depending on the moment, and a great discussion ensues about Jesus where through Liam’s answers I point out he is going to Heaven because he loves Jesus and believes in him. I point out how his life shows evidence of someone who has been transformed by Jesus, and that he will be in Heaven with Jesus after he dies.
As Easter has drawn closer, we have talked more about the cross. We talk a lot about Heaven, as a family, and what we look forward to doing there. The boys want Jana and I close to them once we get there. Duncan has said before how he is worried about arriving there and not knowing anyone. I have told him I will be waiting for him. (Granted, I have no Biblical basis for this statement. Just faith, hope, and understanding of God’s character.)
Before the service last night, Liam mentioned again about how he can know for sure he is going to Heaven. He’s never had that moment of change because he has always lived in an home and environment where Jesus is ever-present. He hears stories, whether the Bible or otherwise, of people making dramatic conversions. He knows I didin’t start following Jesus till after I graduated from high school. I can only speculate as to why he would worry and ask. Maybe it’s my own shortcomings as a dad and what I share with him. It’s hard to understand. Heck, I still wrestle with doubt from time to time, and as I get older the reality of mortality is something I am aware of more.
Throughout the message, Liam and Duncan were not sitting still. Are they listening? They capture big themes. Mark’s style and delivery make it easy for them to follow along. The visual of crossing a line, as Mark drew out on the floor, help connect the dots in their minds. The video of Josiah’s story, hearing Mark’s story of going from believing in an idea of Jesus to trusting in him (cue Duncan’s comment). Not to mention the entire worship experience leading up to the moment with the songs, prayers, visuals, words, peoples’ presence, and much more.
Mark led everyone in a prayer at the end and told people afterward that if this was you first time praying a prayer like that, or you want to mark today as a day you crossed the line, you were invited to come on stage and write your name on the floor along with Mark and Josiah’s names. At this point, Liam is bursting at the seams to go up on stage and I’m holding him back. He would have run up there while Mark was still talking. Once Mark was done, Liam took me by the hand and led us up on stage. Well, he led Duncan as well. During the prayer, Jana was holding Duncan. Duncan repeated Mark’s prayer on his own, and wanted to go up on stage as well to mark the day as crossing over from death to life.
Liam led the way, and a flood of people followed. Granted, many of them were already ready to go up on stage, but there were the three of us walking across the stage first so Liam and Duncan could write their names as having crossed from death to life.
When we got back to our seats, I told Liam I thought he was going to Heaven before this moment. However, if he ever wonders again about where he is going after he dies, he can always remember this moment as a marker, as a tangible moment, when he crossed the line. Liam then gives me a big bear hug. (He’s standing on the chair as I talk to him. Easier to give hugs like that!)
It was kind of a surreal moment. In one sense, it was cool to see the boys process it on their own and respond accordingly. They want to follow Jesus. It’s a moment to celebrate. However, for me it’s one of many moments to celebrate. I’ve celebrated so many already. I can remember Liam and Duncan telling me, on their own, those first times they loved God. Some of the moments I’m most proud of? When they do something wrong, confess what they did wrong, ask forgiveness, and try to do better. When they pray for someone else. When they tell me, “Dad, I love you more than anything except Jesus.” The daily acts of love and compassion, of sonship, brotherhood, friendship and humanity, where I see the influence of Jesus in their lives and thank God. I’ve talked a lot about Liam and Duncan, but even Gideon showcases his faith. Talking of Jesus, and asking to pray for some of our neighbors.
I’m excited to celebrate Liam and Duncan knowing a moment they can point to when they “crossed the line”, but I’m eager to keep celebrating more moments with them as they continue to grow in their faith.
Of course, we are still sinners. Afterward, I’m trying to reign in the boys as they are bursting at the seams. We get out to the van and they are at each other. One thing leads to another and as they are getting situated in their seats Duncan says, loudly, “Just shut up, Liam!” I’m shaking my head, smiling, and also wanting to discipline Liam and Duncan. They apologize to each other…another moment to celebrate.