Your 9-year-old hand penned those words and this mother’s heart breathed a rare sigh of relief, since at least one of the things we’ve seemingly done right (still all of grace!) is not communicating to you that being a Christian is as easy as walking an aisle or merely saying a prayer. But at the same time, my 39-year-old heart, which has seen it’s share of painful battering and still tender bruising, wonders what you can possibly know of how hard it really is.
So when your daddy asked you, “Do you promise to follow Jesus all the days of your life?”, I had mixed feelings as you emphatically answered, “Yes!”
I’ve been 3 decades farther down the road of life than you, and as I grieved with a friend suffering loss recently, felt afresh the thorny ways, dreaded clouds, and bitter tastes which make up this life of following Jesus. What about all of those things you’ve yet to encounter? The few struggles you’ve had in your relatively easy life are nothing compared with what might, and most likely will, lie ahead for you in this cursed world.
How could we let you make such a promise?
Because God reminded me the strength of your promise made isn’t in your ability to follow, but in his ability to lead. He is always putting us in a position which requires us to trust him, without all the specifics, but based on the fact of his character and actions. He often says, “This is who I am and this is what I do. Will you follow me?”
So as you answered with that enthusiastic “Yes!” God was really asking me again (as he has done so many times these past 9 years), “Do you trust me with her, Erica? Do you trust that I can lead her based on who I am and what I have promised to do?” And so, in my heart, I murmur a less eager but still resolute “Yes!” too.
I have to keep letting you go. Because you make a great daughter but a horrible idol. So I relinquish all my claims on you and submit them to his much higher and better claim on you. Yes, Stella, follow him! Follow him with all the passion your 9-year-old heart can muster. Don’t look at the path, look at the Leader! Don’t look at the building, look at the Builder. Don’t look at the created, look at the Creator. Don’t look at the story, look at the Author! He is a big God with a big plan for you.
Those thorny ways will lead to a joyful end, I remind myself. Those dreaded clouds are immense with mercy, and why wouldn’t I want you to share with me in their breaking shower? And those bitter tastes are graciously washed down with the same free living water which has quenched your thirst eternally!
So welcome to his table, our daughter and sister. Jesus, thank you!
*Thanks to RJ and Emily Vergara for the powerful video of this special day in the life of our church.