Faith of our mothers

How valid is the decision you make when you’re six years old?

That’s how old I was when my mother told me that I would burn, apart from the family I held dear, in hell if I did not ask Jesus Christ into my heart to be my Lord and Savior. When you’re that young, your world is your immediate family, and the thought of life (or the afterlife, in this case) without them is hell enough – add to that the image of never-ending burning in fire and brimstone, and, well, that’ll turn a child to Jesus.

I remember that moment. I remember a little wordless book with colored pages – green, black, red, white and gold – and getting down on my knees to sing a song called Into My Heart. And I remember telling the same evangelistic spiel to Rochelle and Margot, who were a few months younger than me, and bossing them into kneeling to pray Jesus into their own hearts. I was a bossy child.

In youth group I met now-lifelong-friends who shared stories of a moment in their lives when they found themselves desperately on their knees, asking Jesus to be the Lord and Savior of their hearts. They had dramatic, life-shaking stories, and they were high on their lately-found faith. I envied them that, and got rightly scolded for not appreciating what I had: the faith of my mother, and her mother before her.

There was a time when I always thought I would become a mother, and although I wouldn’t scare my child into becoming a Christian, I knew that I would be sharing my faith with her, too.

I was sitting in a cafe, enjoying my haloumi stack brunch all by myself, journalling a brain dump and justifying why, after three months of having moved to Sydney I still hadn’t found a church to commit to, when this question popped out: How valid is the decision you make when you’re six years old?

Huh. Was my first reaction to that question. And then just as quickly, the answer: When everything else I’ve chosen since then is because of that six-year-old’s choice, that’s definitely a valid decision (but don’t get me wrong, I’m no saint!). And that’s been possible only because the One I chose hems me in behind and before, and has His hand on me (Psalm 139:5)… and also, because of the faith of my mother, and her mother before her. And so here we are, my mother with my brother on her lap, and my hand in my grandmother’s. And because I made that decision when I was six, someday my hand will be in my grandmother’s again.

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