Have you ever watched as God worked in a loved one’s heart right before your eyes? As a mom, I have the honor of seeing the Lord at work in my children’s lives, usually gradually and more slowly than I would choose. But last week, I witnessed God’s handiwork unfold in a matter of minutes.
As I was busy making dinner, I handed down a small behavioral correction to my 6-year-old daughter. A few minutes later, I overheard her confess to the dog that she thought she might go to hell because of the mistake. I left the barbeque pork chops, called her to me, and pulled her onto my lap at the kitchen table. Then I asked, “How good do you think you need to be to go to heaven?”
“Do you have to be really good? Just a little good? More good than bad?”
“Darling, did you know that God says we have to be perfect to go to heaven?”
Disbelief crept onto her face, and she asked in a small voice: “Perfect?”
“Yes,” I answered, “God is holy. He cannot be in the presence of sin. We must be sinless and perfect to be with Him in heaven.”
It was not the first time I have spoken these words to her. We’ve talked about the gospel truths of our sinfulness and need for Christ over and over again. Most of the time, she seems uninterested, and I’ve been asking God to soften her heart.
He must’ve not just softened it, but completely melted it. Because this time, upon hearing that God demands perfection, my sweet daughter started weeping.
Tears streamed down her face and the sound of her wailing brought her brothers from opposite ends of the house to see what was wrong. I shooed them away and tried to soothe her.
“There’s more, Sarah Kate, there’s more,” I said, as I held her and rubbed her back.
Because God’s demand for perfection isn’t the end of the gospel story.
When she was quiet, I continued. I explained how Jesus lived a perfect life for her. He died for her, taking the punishment for her sin. He’s given her His record of perfection. If she is in Christ, when God looks at her, He doesn’t see her sin – He sees Christ’s perfection.
Once again, her eyes filled with tears. But these quiet tears were accompanied by a smile. The truth of the gospel moved her from hopelessness and despair to quiet rest. It is so sweet to trust in Jesus.
She gets it. She gets it. I pray that she will be filled every day with an awareness of Christ’s work on her behalf. And yet, I know that she will struggle. She will feel the weight of the world’s demands, of the expectations of others, of her own desire for perfection. She will be distracted by busyness, by worry, and by materialism.
I know this because I’m living it. And my prayer for her is my prayer for myself: that we will live each day in the freedom of the gospel, knowing that God’s demands have been met perfectly by our Savior.