Thursday, May 7, 2009
This is hardly news anymore, since I have broadcast it in emails, on Facebook, and it was announced at church last night by our pastor, but I thought I would blog a little bit on Ben's salvation decision this week. It actually reminds me of when he took his first steps, the summer before he turned 3. I had to tell everyone! And that was because something had happened that I didn't know ever would, for sure. I hoped, but until I saw it, it wasn't real. When Ben took his first steps I took that to mean that he was progressing and that if, nothing else, I wouldn't be having a wheelchair bound child as we had been told might be a distinct possibility. The decision for salvation is completely different, but still I can draw some parallels between the two.
Paul and I have had a very "hands off" approach with all the boys in the area of their eternal souls. We never wanted to walk them into any decision they weren't ready for and by doing so have the potential for doubts when they were older. This needed to be something that happened when they were ready and as the Holy Spirit worked in their hearts. I have always cringed a bit when I have had moms exclaim to me their excitement over their child getting saved - at age 3! I'm not saying it can't happen then, but I am a bit skeptical. So, we have done the right things with the boys, in that we have exposed to them the Gospel from their earliest years. Will made the decision around age 7 (although he didn't tell us for a couple more years!) and David came under conviction quite young, when he was only 5 and prayed the sinner's prayer then. I am confident, though, that even at that age, being David, he was sincere.
But with Ben, we just haven't known where he is mentally, if he was even capable of such a decision. For a couple of years now, he has asked questions pertaining to salvation but they have been very "young" questions, like, "If I say 'hell' a whole bunch of times, will I go there?'" and things like that. When we have pressed a little bit, Ben has quickly lost interest and changed the subject or wandered off. I have had many people say to me over the years that they think Ben understands a whole lot more than he lets on, but I have always kind of hoped they were wrong, because if it were true, then it might mean that Ben had reached an understanding of salvation and was rejecting it, which would make him hell-bound.
David is getting baptized next month. Our pastor had called Tues. morning to discuss that and I was not home. But he reached me on my cell phone. When I did get home Ben asked me why Pastor had called. I explained that it had to do with David's baptism. Ben wanted to know what that was all about. I explained and at one point Ben said, "saved from what?" And so I was able to go through the Gospel with him yet again. And he wandered off and I didn't think any more about it. That night, he, David, Sam, and I were in the van on the way home from softball. All of a sudden, Ben piped up with some questions. It soon became evident to me that he had been mulling over the morning's conversation all day long. I answered his questions, and as quickly as I would, Ben would have another. Sweet little David, with his evangelist's heart, immediately jumped into the conversation as well. He has been burdened for Ben for years. When he was younger he would solemnly inform Ben that he was on his way to hell if he didn't repent of his sins immediately! We finally had to tell him to stop doing that! Soon, Ben said, "I want to get saved, Mom." But I wanted to make sure he was sure. So I quizzed him quite a bit, making sure he understand and was still ready. I didn't want him to pray a prayer, for me to get all excited, and have everyone all happy that the poor, mentally impaired Heywood boy was going to Heaven, and have it not be real. But Ben was quite firm in his decision, which shouldn't surprise me. He's that way about everything. Once he decides something, he to be physically restrained in order to persuade him otherwise!
Paul wasn't around for the other boys' decisions and I think that has always been a bit of disappointment to him, so I persuaded Ben to wait until we got home. As soon as Paul and Will pulled in the driveway, Ben announced to his dad that he was "ready to get saved." Paul was quite surprised and did some gentle quizzing on his own of Ben. But soon the two of them were kneeling down at the couch and Ben became a child of God.
Honestly, I'm thrilled! All my chicks are safe now, at least until Sam reaches the age of accountability. My mom commented that it will be interesting to see what changes occur in Ben's life now. I hadn't even thought of that, that his salvation might influence his behavior in a good way! It's extra thrilling to me, too, because it's Ben. After his birth, the doctors didn't give us a whole lot of hope for his life. We were told up front that he would be a burden to us all his life. In many ways, that has been true, as Ben has taken tremendous amounts of time, money, and energy. With all that, it has been very easy to forget that he is a person and not just a consumer of all my resources. But this salvation experience really impressed on me the fact that Ben is a person, created in the image of God, with an eternal soul. The fact that he has physical and mental impairments while here on earth is really beside the point. He is just as human and just as needful of salvation as my other boys. And Jesus died for him, too. In fact, as I was trying to explain to Ben, that even if there had been no other people on the earth and only Ben (a fact that Ben couldn't wrap his literal mind around - "why wouldn't there be any other people?"- so I dropped that) Jesus still would have died. That fact alone shows how much God esteems even the most "broken" of humans. We're all precious to Him.
It's been a happy week at our house - and in the streets of Heaven, I imagine!