My nine-year-old son came in my bedroom last night after I had already put him to bed. He said he couldn’t sleep because he was scared. I asked him what was scaring him, and he said, “I’m scared about all the nice people going to hell who don’t know Jesus.” My husband and I prayed with him and tried to explain that God doesn’t want them to go to hell either. That’s why he sent his son, Jesus, to die for them and us. But that salvation is a gift freely given out of God’s love. But God doesn’t force that gift on us. It’s up to us to accept it. So that’s why it’s important to tell people about what God did for us. So that they can accept Jesus’ gift and be cleansed of their sin. God can’t allow people in heaven who still have sin in their life because then it wouldn’t be heaven, would it?
My son responded, “But why not get rid of people’s sins without them choosing? Why can’t God do it no matter what?” He started to tear up. “I’m afraid that God is cruel.”
Again, my husband and I tried to explain how God gave us free-will. We didn’t go into grace and how it’s impossible to earn your way to heaven. It was late, and I could see that what was truly bothering my son was the fear that God was cruel. At that point, I didn’t know what else to say to make him feel better. I could see that he was still upset when he trudged back toward his bedroom. I couldn’t go to sleep knowing that my son thought God was cruel. So, I went to his room and found him hidden under his covers. Soft whimpers filled the room. I wanted so badly to help him, but I didn’t know how, so I prayed again. Then it occurred to me that I needed share how God had demonstrated his great love and kindness in my life.
So, I asked him if he wanted to hear some true stories from my life. He came out from under his covers and nodded. I told my son about how one day about nineteen years ago, I was feeling down, and I thought God was telling me to get a book by Max Lucado. I ignored God all day until finally, God had my cousin, who lived four hours away, call me. My phone rang and the first thing out of my cousin’s mouth was, “Get Just Like Jesus by Max Lucado.” God had been insistently whispering to her heart to call me that she stopped what she was doing (she’d been making macaroni and cheese) to tell me about the book. Click here to read the whole story. I asked my son, “Now, would a cruel God go to that much trouble to make sure I read a book? That, by the way, focused a lot on how much Jesus loves us.” My son answered, “No.”
I also told him a story about how five years ago I was in church and God whispered to my heart to keep an eye out for someone he wanted me to pray for. The sermon was ending, and it was the time where people came up to the altar for prayer. Well, out of nowhere I had to pee like a champ (at this point in the story my son started giggling). I never had to pee so bad in my life. I whispered a quick prayer, telling God that I’d be right back but I had to pee. I assured God that I’d go as fast as I could, so I could get back to see who went up to the altar for prayer. I hightailed it to the bathroom and right outside the bathroom door was a friend who looked very ill. Immediately, the need to pee subsided. I asked her what was wrong, and she said, “I feel so sick. I wanted to go up front for prayer, but I just couldn’t make it.” So, I prayed for her right there in front of the bathroom. My son was amazed that God used my bladder to help someone.
I also told my son that when I was his age I used to read jokes to God at night. And how I knew deep down that he laughed at my jokes. I told him that God is not cruel. Would a cruel God enjoy jokes or use my bladder to help a sick lady? No, God wants us to be his friend. He wants a relationship with us. He wants us to tell him a joke now and then. My son smiled, turned on his side, and closed his eyes. Then he giggled one last time before falling asleep.
After I got back to my bedroom, I realized that rehashing what God had done for me was exactly what I needed also. I needed a reminder of God’s love. And I’m thankful for a son who cares so deeply for lost souls. I know that God will use him in a mighty way.