It began with a phone call: a storm was coming, so we’d better be prepared.
Blue skies and gentle breezes outside confused me, and I joined our neighbors in our yards, wondering where the storm was coming from and when it would hit. The radar showed it was, in fact, coming. Look out. It’s going to be a big one.
Soon, the sky proved what technology had already shown.
Dark skies and stronger winds. A shift in the air. It’s coming.
We, and everyone else, fled inside as the winds began to rip branches from trees. The rains came, and the storm was here.
Almost immediately, the lights went out and the house was eerily silent, save for the sound of wind, rain, and thunder raging outside. “What’s going on, Mommy? What are the trees doing out there?” I explained the storm as best as I could, and we sat by the open window watching the power of nature at work.
It didn’t last long. Soon, the sky showed signs of letting up.
The storm passed as quickly as it had come, but we still sat in a darkened, silenced house. Seeking any way to entertain (and not spook) my little girl, I pulled a beanbag chair over to the screen door and offered story time. She eagerly accepted the invitation, climbing into my lap with her blanket and her Goofy.
As I read, I glanced to my right and saw the ever-changing sky. It was beautiful, and I said, “Look, honey. Look at the sky! Isn’t that beautiful? God made it look that way just for you. He loves you and likes you to have pretty things to look at like that.”
And she, not yet three years old, looked at the sky and said, “Mommy, Jesus is in my heart.”
What had she just said? Certainly, it was not a concept that was foreign to her, as we try to surround her with the truth of God’s love for her in everything we do. We’ve explained Jesus’ presence in our hearts to her before. She knows about it…but does she understand? Could she?
All of those things and more were running through my mind as I said, “Honey, did you ask Jesus to come and be in your heart?”
“Yes. Yes, I did,” she said, as she fiddled with her flashlight and squirms on my lap.
Could it be, I wonder? Can it be possible? She is so young…so little…can she understand what she is saying? Does she know the amazing power of what she is claiming for herself and for her life? Does she mean it? Can she?
My eyes teared up and my heart began to beat faster, thinking that yes…she probably does. From her heart, in her childlike faith, she gets it. My suspicions were confirmed the next morning when I woke her up. Still loving to hear those words coming from my sweet girl’s mouth, I asked her again:
“Honey, who is in your heart?”
“Jesus, Mommy. I think he loves me.”
“That’s right, honey. He loves you so, so much. And do you want to love him back?”
With sleep still in her eyes, hair matted and tangled, she looked up at me and said, “I do love my Jesus, Mommy. And he is in my heart.”
Since then, there has been some wrestling in our house. There has been a tug and pull between head and heart – not in her, but in the grownups. My husband and I have struggled a little with this, wondering if it can really be that simple and that straightforward for her.
The more we think about it, though, the more chances she has to show up how real this is for her.
She is outside in a playhouse when she says, “Mommy, my JESUS is up here with me!”
She falls down, and rather than calling for Mommy or Daddy, she calls for “her Jesus.”
He is real for her, and His love for her is as real as is Mommy’s and Daddy’s. She comes to Him with childlike faith, and He meets her right where she is. She cannot explain everything about Him. She doesn’t know all of the deep theological truths that scholars have spent centuries trying to explain. She knows that her Jesus loves her, and she loves Him back.
It is that simple, and I believe it.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” (Matthew 19:14)