Wednesday, December 8

The joy was not lost in the theology.

Warning: This is going to be a long post.

John and I were raised in a baptist church, and we were both baptized at a young age. Looking back at the evidence of our lives, neither of us think we experienced heart change at that point. It came later for both of us, and we have been super careful to raise our children differently. We really want them to love God and serve God because of who He is and because of our own relationships with Him, not because of a super-emotional, guilt-driven alter call or out of fear of what will be if they do not. I am not saying those methods do not work at all, because they do for some, but for us, we wanted something entirely different for our children.

They are covenant children. They have been baptized as infants. Does this mean that they are saved? Absolutely not. It means that we are intentional. We are putting our faith in God that he will do a redeeming work in their hearts, and we are being very intentional about how we are raising them. Does it mean that God will for sure do a redeeming work in their hearts? No, but it does mean that we realize it is fully God. We hope and we pray, but we know that the story is already written out by God and it is good.

And to be truthful, I have wondered many times how the reality of this will play out for us. John and I are eleven and a half years in to this life together, and it is just so different from what we knew as children. I have struggled through what salvation would look like for my kiddos, and I have plowed through books. I have reminded myself of the scriptures, and I have talked to many, many people on both sides of the fence. John and I have gleaned what we could learn, and we really have left the rest up to whatever God would do in their hearts. Still very intentional in parenting, but just waiting on those tangible things to help us see their hearts.

And also to be truthful, I have wondered what the emotional level would be like when we did get to that point. Would the same joy be there that we had? Would it seem as special since they had already been baptized? Would we really be able to discern the difference between their head knowledge and change in their hearts?

Well, we are here. I have spent the last few months answering Maggie's questions and talking with her. We went through the children's membership booklet, and she gets it. She really, really gets it in ways that I still don't get it. I have watched her process her own sin and take care of it the way I wish I did. She knows that God is working in her and that he gives her the faith to believe. And we know it, too. God provided us with tangible evidence, just like we had been hoping for...

Maggie had her membership interview yesterday. She was so excited, and I was so nervous for her. Can I just say how much I LOVE our pastor and our youth pastor? They were awesome with her. It was so much more than I expected that when I finally had time to really process it all last night, I cried with gratefulness. Of course, she shared her story. They chatted with her, and it was so perfect for Maggie. It was so perfect for me. We are definitely at the right church for us. Mr. Mike and Mr. Zack know her (and us) well enough that they were totally able to take her answers and individualize things with her. She left that office so terribly excited to be a contributing member of our church, terribly excited to be able to participate in communion for the first time, and honestly, just plain happy. There was joy, lots and lots of joy and excitement...and the absolute best thing about it is that she knows that it is God, not her.

More times than I can even count, I have had people tell me that they would not exchange that alter call/salvation prayer/believer's baptism for anything. I have been told that the joy is lost in our theology. I have questioned it myself over the years. After yesterday's experience, I have to say that no joy was lost in my kiddo. Before I couldn't really say that because I had never really experienced the whole process as a reformed believer. I have now, through Maggie, and there is no joy lost indeed.