Every now and then the Lord gifts a bedtime conversation encrusted with treasure.
On this particular evening I made every effort to comfort my snuffy-nosed and croupy three-year old son; I read books, sang his favorite songs, stroked his forehead, and nuzzled in close for a mother-son snuggle.
Breaking the silence of our snuggle, he asked, “Mom, I’m afraid of having bad dreams tonight.”
“Well, sweetie. Let’s try to fill your thoughts with happy things, things you enjoy and make you smile,” I said softly, while trying to summon those things that make him beam with joy.
“M’kay. Like what?” he asked turning toward my face, our noses almost touching.
“Like…think about sunshine in heaven and running and jumping and finding bugs under rocks and playing hide-and-seek with Jesus. Because heaven is full of sun-shining days, every day! Isn’t that cool?” I asked, lilting my voice more like a little girl than a mommy.
“But, I don’t want to die on a cross.”
And there it was. That precious moment to clarify the essence of our faith to my tenderhearted son.
“Oh, buddy, but see! that’s the thing about Jesus. He died on the cross so that you don’t have to. You’ll never have to die on a cross to get into heaven because Jesus already did that for you!” I said as he lifted his head and responded: “I don’t?!”
As a young girl in Sunday school, I remember learning over and over again that Jesus loved me–so much so–that He offered His life in place of mine on the cross; that He who knew no sin, died for mine. His death in exchange for my sins.
It was love at first sight. Someone would die for me?
Years later, I try to put into three-year old language the reality of a love so wonderful, so breathtaking, and so available to each of us.
“Nope! You’ll never have to die on a cross to get into heaven because Jesus already did that for you. He loved us so much that He died so that we wouldn’t have to; it’s His gift to us.”
Curling his blue blankie in close to his body and nestling under his covers, I heard a faint, “Okay, mommy. Good night.”
I’ve learned through these early years of motherhood that these conversations, indeed, are treasures. These treasures are not only for my children, but also for me, their mommy.
Like most mommies, I get frustrated at bedtime. I‘m done with wiping noses and bottoms, snack-dispensing, sock-sorting, and lego-side-stepping.
I’m just done.
My children feel it, too. Despite my awareness that my frustration and impatience escalates their frenzied behavior, I can’t stop myself and lose my cool.
I am no perfect mother.
Knowing the evil and wickedness that lurks in the dark, unsightly fissures of my heart, I ask the Lord for help, nightly.
Also knowing the strength and power and hope and joy and peace that bubbles up through my heart because I am indwelt with God’s Holy Spirit, I beckon Him to guide me, nightly.
Scripture is clear:
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Ro. 3.23.
“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” Mat.7.11
Oh, how I fall short of God’s glory every single day and beg the Father to make me a good and godly mom.
The abuse from childhood cluttered and warped my patterns of thought, styles of relating and behaving, while my own sin disfigures anything good I try to create, including a new legacy.
Without the eternal, life-giving, and trans-formative work God has done and continues to do within me through Jesus Christ–the Son of God, I am nobody, and I leave nothing of value behind.
Again, the Bible speaks to this depressingly deprave state we all find ourselves:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness 1 Jo. 1.9
Did you catch that order of processes?
He forgives and cleanses us.
We acknowledge our sin and need of saving, and He does all the work: all charges dropped and all made new, clean, pure, holy.
All of my sins, all of the sins committed against me, all of the hurt, betrayal, anger, and hatred has been and continues to be cleansed–permanently removed–Jesus-style: faithfully and righteously.
What kind of legacy do I want to leave behind?
One encrusted with imperishable jewels of faith and trust and love upheld by the blood of Jesus.
One replicated by my children in their own time and in their own way, but rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Today, I’m accepting the dare to nuzzle in close to my Savior in prayer, thanking Him for making this Nobody, His Somebody.
What’s your next step?
What kind of legacy will you be leaving? Where does Jesus’ work on the cross and the power of his resurrection fit within your life? If you’re an abuse survivor, do you see yourself as clean and new? Jesus wants you to draw near to Him and experience the love He has for you. Right where you are.