Friday, November 30, 2012

Intellect vs. Heart Part Two

So, what now?

It started with subtle comments here and there from Martin. He would say things like, "Is there such a thing as someone who doesn't  believe in anything at all?" or "I just don't understand how God has no beginning." Philosophical questions challenging all that we have ever taught him started surfacing every single day. At first, I wondered if it was just an emotional reaction from him. Perhaps he was just trying to hurt me because he knows how deeply I desire to follow God and walk in His ways. There were times that I definitely think his mood was driving the rash and hurtful things he said. It didn't take long for me to realize, though, that he really was digging for deeper philosophical answers to the hard questions that I am not so sure that I've even taken the time to consider. 
I am not the deep philosophical thinker that my husband is. I accepted the truth of the gospel the very first time I heard it. I followed with a child-like faith and that child-like faith has remained intact until this very day. 
Martin has approached this entire issue with a desire to explore those deep philosophical questions and come up with some concrete answers that will satisfy the intellectual needs that he has. 
He has been frustrated to the point of tears over it. We had been having pretty deep conversations about it almost on a daily basis. There was a crazy battle going on inside of him. It was a battle between his intellectual desire for answers and his heart. He would tell me that there is a key to all of it and he just needed to find the key. He has also said that he just wished that God would send him a SHOUTING sign that He is really there. (I've had the opportunity to share with Martin many examples in my own life of God making himself known to me ... and that it never happened in a shouting way ... in my experience it almost always came as more of a whisper)
Rich and I are still stood by our guiding principle to not coerce him. He is a very intelligent boy. Every time he wanted to talk about it, we talked. I prayed for him constantly. Martin had a deep desire to see something concrete that would prove to him that there is a loving God out there somewhere, so my prayers for him were that God would reveal himself to Martin.
So, what did I do with a 10 year old child, who had been home schooled his entire life, that I have poured myself into, taught scriptures every day of his life, prayed for him every day since he was conceived ... when he started to question everything I'd ever taught him?

I REJOICED! I WEEPED! I PRAYED! And I GAVE THANKS that I had a child on my hands who thought so deeply and independently about such important issues. I RESTED in knowing that God had His hand on Martin. I ANTICIPATED the day when Martin would have worked out his salvation and have complete confidence that he is saved ... and he wouldn't have to rely on my memory of him being saved. 

I'd much rather he work these things out in a satisfactory way right now as a 10 year old in my home than as a 20 year old living away from me. As hard as this road was to walk at times, I hope that all of my children ask these hard questions, work them out in a way that brings them to a greater knowledge of who God is,  a deeper faith, and a stronger desire to follow and be obedient to a loving God.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Intellect vs. Heart Part One

I have not had much time for blogging lately. The older my children get the more time I seem to spend in the car taking them to and from band or to and from baseball practice. So, my time at home is spent schooling, cleaning, or cooking. (and with the gluten free needs in our home, I spend even more time in the kitchen than before ... and that's hard for anyone to believe!)

I have been dealing with an issue over the last few months, though, that I want to address. The topic is salvation. The person is Martin. About 3 years ago, Martin spent an entire day wrestling over salvation and God giving him a new heart. He spent the day asking questions and mulling over Jesus and His perfection and even started crying at one point telling me that he wished that he could be like Jesus ... because Jesus never sinned. He seemed to be so keenly aware of the sin in his life that he knew he wasn't able to obtain perfection and needed to be saved. So, that night before he went to bed, he prayed a beautiful prayer and asked God for a new heart. I wrote down every detail of that entire day, so that I could remember the beautiful innocence of it and the prayer that came out of his mouth when he asked for a new heart.
2 things:
1. Rich and I have made it our policy to flood our children with the truth of God's Word. 
2.We have a strict NO COERCING policy when it comes to salvation. So, we teach, but don't push or ask them if they want to be saved. We want them to come to us, and seek out salvation on their own. We have the same philosophy about Baptism. We want it to be their idea ... not something that we suggest.

That is exactly what happened that day. Martin kept seeking me out with many questions all throughout the day. I answered thoroughly and would move on to whatever else I was doing. He kept coming back and asking more. It seemed real and genuine and everything we had hoped it would be. 

I'll admit it. I am a skeptic when it comes to young children and salvation.  I was a young child of only 7 years old when I was saved, and I was saved after hearing the gospel for the very first time. I never doubted my own salvation. I knew that it was very real for a couple of reasons. I never forgot the moment that I made the decision, and from the moment that I was saved I became a new person. I immediately knew that my life was forever changed by God's mercy and grace. I knew that I should be reading my Bible and praying every day. And I did. I didn't have to be reminded or told to do those things. I wanted to do those things. At the time I was saved, we didn't go to church regularly and we were getting ready to move to Iceland. We didn't go to church while we lived in Iceland, but even without a church, I knew that I needed to have a relationship with a loving God. So, even though my own experience was as a young child, when it came to my own children I still remained skeptical. (my experience is that I can get my child to agree to just about anything I say to them ... which is another reason we have a no coercion policy!)
Back to Martin ... after Martin asked for a new heart ... nothing really changed. I didn't see real fruit in his life. I began to doubt whether or not his life had really changed. I doubted whether or not he really understood what salvation was all about. 
Fast forward to today ... 
Martin is now 10 years old and has no recollection of that day that he asked for a new heart.  I even let him read my detailed account of that day ... even the words he prayed ... and he has no memory of it whatsoever!
It is as if it never happened.
As a fairly intellectual 10 year old boy with no memory of what I thought was his salvation experience, he was struggling each and every day with deep philosophical questions on the existence of God. For the past 3 months we have been having exhausting philosophical conversations that sometimes felt as though they were leading nowhere. 
So, what do you when you have a child who is clearly seeking, exploring, and even disputing some of the truth that you have been speaking into his life?
To be continued...