To Know This Love That Surpasses Knowledge

One day a month or so ago Alex and I were in Publix, and completely out of the blue he asked me if he will go to heaven one day. Because I was a little distracted by the fact that at some point pot roasts have started to cost about the same as a cute pair of shoes from Target, I sort of off-handedly replied, “Well, yes, buddy, if you have asked Jesus into your heart, then yes, you will go to heaven.”

And then Alex got very quiet, and after about a full minute of Deep Soul Searching, he screamed “JEEEEEEEEEEEE-SUS! COME INTO MY HEART!” right there next to the pot roasts, only he said it not like he recognized his fallen heart’s need for a Savior but more like he was aggravated with Jesus for not sharing His toys.

So while I wasn’t completely sure that the little man was clear on some of the more fundamental doctrinal issues, I was entirely certain that Jesus had good reason to take issue with his tone.

But then, about five minutes later, when I was seized by TOE CRAMPS, of all things – toe cramps so severe that I could not imagine that my left foot would ever function properly again – I told the little man that I had to stop for a second before THE PAIN MADE MY KNEES BUCKLE, and he responded by saying, “Mama, I would like to tell a prayer for you.”

I said that would be wonderful, so we bowed our heads right there in front of the dairy case and he put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Dear God. Please help Mama’s toes to feel better in Publix so that she can wear her shoe. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.” And he was so deeply sincere about the whole thing that I wondered for a split second if his profession of faith over in the meat department wasn’t the real deal after all.

I’ll probably never know exactly what was going on in Alex’s heart and mind that day in the grocery store, but I do know that he’s been chock-full-o-curiosity ever since. So we’ve spent last few weeks talking through all sorts of four year-old questions about God, and while part of me thinks that four is too young for a child to have any real grasp of sin and sacrifice and atonement and resurrection, a much bigger part of me knows that there is no faith as simple and profound as the faith of a child.

I also know that this is the time to plant those seeds of faith and then water them as much as we possibly can so that the little man’s roots will grow deep, so that one day he will be able, as Paul wrote, “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that [he] may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”

And so, we answer Alex’s questions. We talk about God. We talk about the joys of knowing Him, of serving Him, of trusting Him. We pray that he sees evidence of those joys as he watches his mama and daddy work out their faith every single day.

And it has been, quite simply, one of the sweetest times of my whole life.

Before Alex was born, I imagined that this child whose face I had not yet seen would sit with me at a desk while I carefully read passages of Scripture aloud. Everything would be Perfectly Orderly; I would Teach With Care while my child Listened Attentively. Then we would clasp our hands together and begin the walk toward faith with lockstep precision, only stopping long enough for him to surrender to whatever calling God might have on his life.

Because I wasn’t idealistic or anything.

But the reality, as anybody with a little one knows, is absolutely nothing like that. The daily process of teaching and leading a precious little heart is about as methodical as herding a room full of cats. And you know what else? It is hard. On every single level. So much of parenting uncovers our own imperfections, and we are constantly being humbled, broken and refined in our own lives while we try to nurture the little lives that have been entrusted to us. Did I mention that it’s hard?

There are days when I’m really disappointed in myself as a mother; I get so tired of struggling to balance the things I need to do with the things I want to do, and as a result of that I am confronted with the reality of my selfishness over and over again. It’s a mighty good thing indeed that I don’t have to parent in my own strength, because I’ll tell you right now that I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t last a day.

But the rewards of parenting? They really are huge. They’re immeasurable. They’re eternal. And the longer I’m a mama, the more I find that the most teachable moments in terms of faith don’t require much organization or planning on my part. They don’t necessarily happen while we’re sitting in a church service or when we’re Reviewing Memory Verses With Great Intention, though certainly I believe that God uses those things.

For me the most breathtaking moments – the times when D and I are both able to share our faith with the most sincerity and transparency – are when Alex picks up a maple leaf from the ground and then says, with wonder, “GOD MADE THIS!” Or when he runs into the house after being outside and says, “Mama! I missed you! And I talked to Jesus while I played!” Or when he’s sick with a stomach virus and says, through his tears, “Mama? Will you always take care of me? Will God always take care of me?”

Or even when he puts his hand on my shoulder in the middle of a crowded grocery store and prays for my toe cramps while we stand next to six different brands of sour cream.

In many ways motherhood is absolutely nothing like I imagined but so much more than I expected. And for me, right now, the greatest joy is sharing the Greatest Joy with a four year-old who may get a little cloudy on the theological details – but whose heart is wide open.

I cannot imagine any greater privilege.

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Comments

  1. It is such a joy to see our children on their way to knowing Christ and His Love.

    My dear hubby is excitingly waiting the day he gets to baptize our other daughter.

  2. Oh sheesh… you’ve got me crying now! A beautiful post. My own little peanuts never cease to amaze me with their questions and insights, the Holy Spirit is truly at work in our little one’s hearts. God give us grace to shepherd them with love and Truth.

  3. Thank you for your beautiful post. Being a mom is HARD! Yet the rewards of watching them are great, blessings to you and your family.

  4. What a sweet boy you have!
    My daughter is 4 and she told me this the other day, “Momma, if when I get big and I tell God I want to be a ballerina and he says I have to be something else…well, I’ll still WANT to be a ballerina.”
    Kids really “get” God alot more than we give them credit for sometimes. I love being a momma, because of moments like these!!!

  5. Amen! What a beautiful post. The art of Christian mothering is a high call upon a woman’s life. But since it is filled with such medocrity and monotony, it does not seem like you are making any forward progress with the spiritual training of your children. All the while, they are learning and listening and taking notes. Until the little man is old enough, I want to rise up and call you blessed!

  6. Oh, wow. That should have come with a tissue warning!

    How powerful. And how true. Thanks for that.

  7. Beautiful post!

  8. Oh Boomama! How wonderful! This is just the best thing that I have ever read on the web! You are doing the job that the Lord intended for you! Training up your child! Not easy, but your doing it! Bless you for this post!

  9. This post sums up why I can’t wait to be a mother. Thank you!

  10. Thank you!!! I have been reading your site for awhile now as a lurker.
    I am a mother of two young children and so desperately NEEDED your post today. It spoke to my heart and allowed me to say outloud “AMEN”! Motherhood IS HARD!! So very, extremely, undeniably, heartwarmingly (you get it..)worth it, but also hard. To see others verbalize that information and validate my feelings makes it so much easier to pick myself up, dust off my jeans, and get back on this horse.
    There is nothing more important, or rewarding, than my children. But, I am self-absorbed enough to regularly forget that God is helping me (and my husband) raise these children, I need to rely more on him and let go. So much easier said than done!

  11. THANK YOU- this was probably the best post I have ever read. YOu are an amazing mother and story teller. Your blog is a gift to mom’s everywhere!

  12. All three of my boys asked Jesus into their hearts at 4. It really is a child like faith! I’ve wondered if it was for real or not and they have more questions at every stage. They’ve asked if they really are saved etc but who hasn’t wondered?
    Yes, your boy will have questions but he has a good foundation to start from – thanks to his parents!!

    Parenthood is not for the weak I’ll tell ya that! I think if I would have know what I was up against I would have said, um, noooo waaaaay.
    Great post!

  13. Beautiful post. Alex is very fortunate to have you for his mama. You gave me some much-needed perspective, too.

  14. Charlotte says:

    I’ve been reading your blog for several months now but never left a comment… but this one touched home with me so much that I had to let you know (as many others have). We’ve recently experienced the same with our 5 yr. old daughter… and having a 2 yr. old daughter and 1 month old son, I know we will experience it again (and praying we’ll be better prepared!)… so thank you for saying so simply yet eloquently what my heart wants to express.

  15. Speaking as someone who was 2 years old when I trusted Christ as my Savior, I think it is very possible for a 4 year old to understand enough to do so:) Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:3 that he hopes that people will not be deceived away from the “simplicity that is in Christ.” That right there sums it up for me — it is a simple truth. As we grow and mature, we learn more and more, but the basics are simple, and I understood them when I was 2.
    I sin. Jesus died on the cross for those sins and rose again. I need Jesus. Simple:)

  16. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. I am so thankful that I don’t have to do this parenting thing w/my own strength either.

  17. Can’t even tell you how much I loved that post. Just wonderful!!!!!

    Thanks for the encouragement and the chuckles!

  18. Since I already commented how the post spoke to me I would also like to add (and it is not necessarily related to the post but it in a way is) that even though the pot roast have gotten as expensive as a pair of shoes from Target. It doesn’t necessarily correlate to the fact that the taste has gotten better. Seems like it has been a while since a tasty roast has been purchased. I am from Michigan anyone else notice this???

  19. Thank you so much for this post! Your Alex sounds so much like my 3 year old. He is very concerned about heaven. When he talks about it he tells us that he wants to go to heaven right now. He also believes in prayer, especially when he is in trouble.

    I was saved when I was 4 years old. I may not have understood everything about the Christian life, but I knew that Jesus loved me and that I wanted to please him above all. I have failed him many times in my life, but he never has failed me yet. My testimony is best described in a song I sang several years ago. “I came to love you early, came to know you young…. You saved me from a lifetime of what I might have been.”

  20. sebts girl says:

    Hey Boomama-
    Don’t you take one moment with your little man for granted. I am so thankful for you. There is no higher call anywhere in this land than to be a godly mama.

  21. Oh, how beautiful… I truly believe that A is close to God and speaks to him and HEARS from him, too!

    Well done, good and faithful momma! Well done.

  22. Lovely, Sophie… just lovely. I suspect you are a better mother in your four years than I am in 17 plus 14. Bravo! Thank you so much for sharing.

  23. This may be the best post I’ve ever read on your site. My daughter “was saved” at age 7 and I “worried” (why can’t I LEAVEEE the burden when I lay it down?) that she wouldn’t understand it later when life got more complicated. She’s 20 now and sings and plays guitar in church regularly, sings at various functions on and off campus at MSU and I don’t worry about the status of her heart anymore. Took me the long way to learn that – take yourself a short cut!

  24. Wow, this is an amazing post that you’ve shared with us! It’s absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing!

    “In many ways motherhood is absolutely nothing like I imagined but so much more than I expected.”

    I feel like that as well. :)

  25. Did you tear-up while writing this one? Because my eyes got cloudy while reading it. Beautiful. It hit home with me especially because my oldest is two and is also asking questions. I think you’re doing a great job!

  26. Wow….I have lurked for months, and have always enjoyed your posts.Though, none have spoken so directly to what I am experiencing in my life right now. My little guy just turned 4. I have always talked with him about Jesus, but it seems 4 is the magical age that he truly seems to be ‘absorbing’ our discussions. It’s wonderful how sharing Christ’s gift with our children strengthens our own walk with him!

    Cute Story…

    We attended a tradtional ‘southern’ baptizing this past Sunday…Oh did that bring up the questions! And how do you explain it so little ones can understand? I tried, and he seemed to grasp the idea. Only, I had to try hard to not laugh when he asked…Mama, why are them people gettin’ ‘aber-tized’?(in the cutest southern accent)!

    BooMama(Sophie), this was truly one of,if not, the most touching posts you have written, and I feel blessed that you have shared it. It totally defines where my husband and I are at right now with our little one. It is truly a great feeling when he says to me.. Mama I want to talk to Jesus right now, He’s my best friend you know!

    Thank God for parents like you…How much better the world would be if there were more like you!

    Thanks for Daily Inspriation!
    Annie

  27. BooMama,
    I have lurked for months, and have truly enjoyed everything you have written, and can definitely relate to most all of it! Though none of your posts have spoken so directly to what I am experiencing in my life right now. My little guy just turned 4. I have always talked to him about Jesus, but it seems 4 is the magical age when he appears to be ‘absorbing’ what we talk about.

    Just have to share a cute story…
    We attended a traditional ‘southern’ baptizing this past Sunday. Of course it raised lots of questions from the booster seat! How do you explain it so little ones can understand? I tried my best, and I think he sorta grasped the idea. I tried hard not to laugh though, when he asked me,(in his cute little southern accent) Mama, why are them people gettin’ ‘aber-tized’!

    I just want to let you know that your post truly was a blessing. Isn’t is wonderful how sharing Christ with your child can strengthen your daily walk with him!

    Keep on sharing….You are truly an inspirational person! How much better the world could be if there were more parents like you!

    You got me cryin’, AND outta hidin’!!

  28. I truly believe Alex did accept Christ. My son accepted Christ at age 4 and has walked with him ever since. He will be 16 in Dec. So precious, the innocence of a child. You have a wise young man there. I love how he sees the Lord’s presence in the little things.

    Blessings,
    Lori

  29. Best Boomama post evah! I love, love, love this.

  30. Girl! You know this is the song of my heart. What a precious beautiful post. I hope one day you might read it to him on the eve of some very momentous occasion. To know how deeply and eternally he is loved…what an amazing gift!

  31. Just experienced this myself today! Is it like a young boy thing to LOUDLY proclaim your faith? Or bankruptcy (haha)?

  32. Wow. This is beautiful. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog today. Thanks for giving me a moment just to take it all in. In the midsts of boxes and packing and moving, I can sit back and reflect on the pure faith of a child. Just beautiful.

    (BTW, this is just a wonderfully written post, thanks for that!)

  33. Oh my, you brought tears to my eyes. So true, so touching and so encouraging. I felt so privileged to be a part of my older 2 children professing their own faith in prayer (youngest hasn’t reached that yet). But I think my proudest moment might have been when my first born, at 7, basically gave a statement of faith to his whole class when given the morning talk topic of “something I believe that other people may not…” I wouldn’t have even known about it had he not had to write it in his book before reading it to the class. It was an awesome moment. Parenting is sooooo much harder than I ever imagined it could be. But it is those small precious moments that really keep you going. I feel so privileged to be a mother. :-)

  34. Even with a whole slug of comments ahead of mine I have to stop and tell you this was food for my soul this morning. Precious on every level, and in your own style, you said this: “The daily process of teaching and leading a precious little heart is about as methodical as herding a room full of cats.” And that’s why I just plumb am crazy about you, Ms. Boomama! xoxoxo

  35. Beautiful my friend….

    Trina

  36. This is an awesome post! I just cried and laughed. I remember going through similar experience with my oldest. I felt like it was one of the most exciting times in my life. She was about 4 at the time. She will be 7 next month and she is on fire for Jesus! She actually inspires me with her faith. It is so simple and real. Thanks for sharing your heart! Janel Bunten

  37. Thank you for sharing this. My heart is warmed.