I have prayed endlessly for you Claire. Very few things have consumed my prayer as much as my prayer that God would be faithful to his promise that he would be a God to my children. I have frequently cried out like the father in the gospels who cried out “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9). Very few things show me how much I am not in control than your salvation. Yet I also have felt the weight of my responsibility as your father to teach, nurture, and discipline you in the love of the Lord. I have tried without perfect success to talk about the gospel with you at all times of the day and during all activities.
Not many weeks ago we had had a unusually stressful day. Your grammie came over to watch you. She was going to put you to bed but for some reason she didn’t. She had to go home. We read some stories from The Jesus Storybook Bible and then from the Bible. You were full of questions--more than any other time. We covered a whole range of topics and was able to present a complete picture of the gospel. I sensed the Spirit working in your heart.
For the first time you told me you wanted to trust Jesus. You told me you wanted your heart to be changed. We talked about the importance of faith and repentance. You shared you concern that God might not accept you. I shared the promise of God that he would be your God like He is my God. That if you come in the name of Jesus he won’t cast you out. You told me that you loved Jesus with all your heart and you did trust him and you did want turn from you sin and obey Jesus. I ended our discussion with prayer for you.
As your father, it seemed to me the Spirit had changed your heart and planted the seed of faith in your heart. As I thought about how I would encourage your faith, I thought about my own struggle growing up. I confessed faith when I was four years old as well but was never quite confident in that profession. I was constantly questioning my sincerity. I was constantly questioning the strength of my faith. But I had it all wrong.
I can’t encourage younger me but I can and will encourage you. If (when?) you doubt your faith, stop looking at your faith and start looking at the promises of God that are yours in Christ. Here are the promises I shared with you initially
9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. (Deuteronomy 7:9-10)
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40)
These promises are for you. God is faithful and will keep his promises--whoever comes to him in the name of Jesus, he will not cast out. He will be your God like he has been my God. I will testify to his faithfulness.
Let me give an illustration to make my point clearer. This year I told you I would take you to the aquarium in Atlanta. But you kept asking me if we were really going to the aquarium. My response to you wasn’t, “You need to ask yourself how genuine you have asked me all these times.” No I kept tell you, “What did I promise you? I promised we would go to the aquarium.” Now daddy isn’t God. Sometimes I hate to admit it I haven’t kept my promises but I have tried with all my heart. And even in my imperfection, for the most part, you take those promises at face value. Well God always keeps his promises. You can take what he says to the bank and when you doubt that truth it’s not proper to look inward; it’s proper to look at the one who made the promise.
Claire, I love you with all my heart. I pray to God now that he would make your faith grow. That your life would be marked by repentance and that your faith would bear fruit. I pray that you would love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength, and mind. I pray that you would find a husband who also loves the Lord and serves him whole-heartedly. I pray that I do not quench the smouldering wick but that I would fan it into a blazing inferno. And finally I pray that you wouldn’t look to your faith per se, but you would look to Christ who is our yes and amen and to our God who makes and keeps his promises.