Friday, July 31, 2015

Dear Daughter, I Don't Want You to Escape Hell

Dear Daughter,

I don't want you to escape hell.

Maybe that seems odd. Cruel, even. What kind of mother says that type of thing? But the reason I don't want you to escape hell is because I want something better for you.

I want you to fall so madly in love with Jesus that you crave being with him in heaven. I want you to desire Jesus so much that you would choose Him even if hell wasn't a consequence for not choosing Him.

From the moment I first knew you were growing inside of me, I prayed that you would grow to love Jesus. But then, it was just prayers. Now, I am having to listen to your hard questions and watch and consider my every action. I find myself seeking the Lord's help as there are many times I am so uncertain of how to answer you or guide you.

But what I know is this: I want you to love Jesus deeply, and I want you to choose Him from love and not from fear.

I began thinking deeply through all of this in this past year when we went to a baptismal service. A number of children between the ages of seven and twelve were baptized, and when they were asked why they had chosen to give their lives to Jesus, they answered that it was because they didn't want to go to hell.

Didn't want to go to hell.

Of course, when we understand the horrors of hell, we shouldn't want to go there. And when I think of when I was a child, I remember having a lot of fear about hell that motivated me. I also understand that there is a journey in our Christian walks, especially when we choose Christ at a young age... that we will grow to understand our faith more and that at first we probably will not understand exactly all that our choice to follow Christ encompasses. But I also know that simply a fear of hell and saying a little prayer is not what saves us.There must be a love for Christ along with it.

I think about the verse in Matthew 7 (21-23) that says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast our demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness."

Oh, sweet daughter of mine, this is why there must be a love for Christ. If we are simply motivated by a fear of hell, then we will just work, work, work. We will seek to do all the right things to ensure our salvation, but we will possibly miss out on the only thing that really matters: That Christ died for me while I was yet a sinner (Romans 5:8) and that salvation is a gift of God and not of works (Ephesians 2:8) and that nothing good dwells in me (Romans 7:18). And when I grasp these verses, I am not motivated to love Jesus from fear but from a deep love and gratitude that overwhelms my soul.

So, as I consider and embrace all of this, I trust that God is working on your little heart. The other week we were reading your Jesus Storybook Bible, and we read about the story in the Garden of Gethsemane. You asked if the next story was about Jesus dying on the cross. When I told you it was, you cried and said you didn't want to read that story and that you wanted to skip it. My heart broke and I tried to explain to you that this is the most important story, and that we know how it ends. We know that Jesus doesn't stay dead. And yes, the story of Jesus includes some very dark and sad parts, but the ending is beautiful and these sad parts were all allowed by God because He loves us and this is how we can have a good relationship with Him again. I tried to explain all of this. But you were still crying, and you were still adamant that you didn't want to read this story because it was sad and scary.

And in that moment, I made a decision. I told you we wouldn't read it until you were ready. Because I want you accept this part of the story. You need to accept this part of the story. That along with the beautiful stories of Jesus being born in a manger and playing with children and healing the sick, that he was beaten and spit on. That he was hated and laughed at. That he was stripped of his clothes and had a crown of thorns placed harshly onto his head. That his hands and his feet were nailed to a piece of wood, and He was covered in blood as he hung on that cross, and He took His last breath while hanging there. And it is all so dark and sad and heartbreaking, but that is not the end of the story. The grave could not hold Him, and after all the dark, He rose again. He came back alive. And those three days from complete darkness to overwhelming joy and astonishment are what save us. Jesus' death and resurrection are the answer to our long awaited need for a Savior.

Hell is real. It is a place of eternal torment. But the most devastating part of it is not the horrors that occur there but that it means everlasting separation from Jesus Christ. Dear Daughter, when you grasp the worth of Christ and His actions for you, you will desire nothing more than to spend the rest of eternity with Him. Instead of fearing hell, you will fear a future without Jesus. I pray you choose Him. I pray that God will open your eyes to Who He is and stir in you a great sorrow for your sin that required the shedding of blood... the shedding of Jesus' blood.  I pray you will see Him as better than all this world has to offer... a treasure worth seeking with your whole heart... and that you will give Him your whole heart for your whole life.

I love you, Sweet Girl,
Your Mama

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