A few days ago, in the car, in a completely random moment of perfection, Hattie calls to me from behind.
“Mommy, I love Jesus.”
I don’t know what your moments are with your children.
Those moments when you feel your heart squeeze and then nearly explode with happiness.
Mine don’t require much. (I suspect yours don’t either.) A nursing infant playing with my hair. One of those sweet baby hugs when short, chubby arms squeeze around my neck. A toddler reaching up to fit their hand inside mind. A squiggly attempt at a love note (even when it wasn’t written to me).
My child loving Jesus.
This little phrase tossed at me from the back of the minivan on our way home from somewhere I can’t remember may not sound all that earth-shattering or profound to you. (This is, after all, coming from the same child who, while praying, regularly thanks God for herself.)
But it spoke a very simple word to my soul, and it went in deep.
God has heard my prayers.
I hope this isn’t heresy, but I would describe my relationship with God growing up as something like an arranged marriage.
I grew up in a Christian home with Godly parents in the Bible Belt.
It was by culture, proximity and, of course, God’s sovereignty, completely natural—and probably expected—for me to trust in Jesus Christ as my Savior as a young child.
And so the marriage began.
But it was loveless (at least on my side.)
I respected God and generally tried to submit to Him. I read the Bible and had heard plenty about His love for me, but I still just didn’t get it.
How am I supposed to love someone that I cannot see?
So God and I had something of an agreement in those days.
Since I knew that He knew that I did not love Him, I promised God that I would never tell Him I loved Him until I really did. (I secretly hoped that He would respect my honesty, and perhaps it would counterbalance the fact that I couldn’t muster up the words, “I love you.”)
I just didn’t want to be any more of a hypocrite than I already was. I might be able to fool everyone else, but I knew I couldn’t fool God and I wasn’t even going to try.
As the years passed, I became accustomed to the lifeless, one-sided relationship that God and I had. It became normal, and I forgot that there were people out there who really did love Jesus.
I went to church. I said and did good things. I wrote articles for my Christian college newspaper full of cliché Christian words and wisdom. I sounded legit, and I probably looked happy.
But I did not love God.
It was a deeply dark and painful season.
I tear up now remembering it. (I hope no one is looking.)
God was still loving me.
It took years. And people. And circumstances that I pray I may someday get to explain to you, but through it all God quietly, patiently and faithfully drew me to Him.
Love began to stir. The relationship to deepen.
I found myself praying. A lot. Thrilling in the Word. Weeping over grace. Worshipping.
Years of patience (God’s, not mine) through a rocky, love-starved, and ridiculously unequally yoked “marriage,” and it had finally grown. I could honestly say the words in truth and in joy.
Father God. I love you.
And so more than anything else that I have prayed for my children, more than the prayers of protection and provision, more than the petitions for good friends and Godly spouses and blessed lives, more than prayers for wisdom, I have prayed that my children will love God.
Really, truly, deeply love Him with their lives.
A tiny three-year-old voice in the backseat of a minivan on a quiet day in our quiet lives brought this momma to tears.
Because I guess I just needed a little reminder.
Really and truly and absolutely, God hears my prayers (and yours).
“The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer.” Psalm 6:9
~I know there are many of you out there who have loved Jesus since childhood, and then there are those like me who have fallen in love with Him slowly, while He waited patiently. Or maybe you are right now where I have been.
Either way, tell me about it. Please. I want to hear your story too.