I was 5 years old. I loved church, I sincerely loved Jesus, and on this day, 54 years ago, I was baptized into the family of God.
What an honor! What a privilege! I recall coming up out of the warm water and imagining the saints and angels in heaven clapping and hugging each other as they watched from above. It is a moment that I hope I never forget.
As a parent of a special needs child, I felt as though I was a part of a rollercoaster, secret society. Not only were there amazing moments, like when my child said, Mama, with such passion in his voice, but there were the all too many days in the hospital wondering if we would EVER be able to go home. There were tender moments and there were crazy, Where are you, Lord? moments that could happen within a five minute period.
So how could I tell my son about Jesus? How could I be assured that my son would be in heaven one day? Questions like these would fill me with anxiety because I know there is only one way to go to heaven. Those aren’t my rules….but rules that God clearly states in the Bible.
Let’s look at what the Bible says … stay with me here …
- Romans 5:12 says, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the entire human race. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” (I know….how can we be declared guilty for something Adam did thousands of years ago?? Look at number 2.)
- Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” Well, dang. Because we are all descendants from Adam and Eve, we too are born with sin. But wait!!!
- John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Your little one might be unable to understand that verse about salvation but we can teach them that because God loved us so much, He made a way for us to be forgiven of our sins!
What do all of our children need the most? They need to understand that they are loved and safe. Telling them God loves them from the first day they are born gives them a sense of His character. As you consistently acknowledge His presence (i.e. explaining who made the sun, who made the trees, etc.) you are establishing your child’s understanding that God is real. You can tell them that God is strong and that He always keeps His promises. You can tell him that God gives us rules that we must obey too. Tell your children you love them and show them that God loves them too! Don’t be discouraged that you aren’t too familiar with Scripture. In fact, maybe this is a good time to read your child’s preschool Bible stories and then find time to research the Scriptures for yourself.
If your child is incapable of fully understanding who God is or what He has done, I believe he/she will begin to feel the love of the Savior from your words, your touch and the sound of your voice. I also believe that Paul speaks of an “age of accountability” in Romans 7:9 and believe that children that are not intellectually mature enough to understand the spiritual consequences of sin are not held accountable for those sins and will receive eternal life.
Do you have other children that would rather stay home on Sunday? Don’t wait for your children to decide if they want to go to church. Don’t allow the thinking, “I don’t want to force my belief on them” because YOU are their parent! Do you force your child to wear a seat belt? Do you decide that they get their immunizations? Do you insist that they brush their teeth before bed? These things you make them do does not make you a bad parent….it makes you a better parent! The gift of eternal life is the best information you could ever give your child!
As far as baptism for your disabled child, I believe it is a symbol of the believers trust and reliance on Jesus. This should be done only if the child understands what it means. It should not be done if he or she cannot full understand and the parent just wants to feel better about themselves, as if checking off a to-do list.
Lamentations 2:19, “Pour out your heart like water before the face of the Lord. Lift your hands toward Him for the life of your young children.”
Our earthly, physical bodies are all destined for death, but your child’s belief and trust in Christ will equip them for eternity! Commit to praying for your children everyday. Make an effort to talk to your children about the beauty God made and how He has entrusted this planet to us, even if your child doesn’t have the capacity to fully understand.
Your child may not understand everything you say, but your heavenly Father hears you and that makes the saints and angels shout for joy!