“But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 19:14 KJV
I have been a Christian for most of my life, born into a Baptist believing family. Although, my parents were not church goers, whenever I went as a young child it was with my grandmother or friends. When I became a teen I was involved with the youth at my church. When I was twelve I accepted Christ as my Savior and was baptized into the Baptist faith. I remember being by myself at a revival when I made that decision. I only knew that I wanted to go to Heaven and not hell and I loved Jesus because He was a nice man. Could there be any better reasons?
Who, at the age of twelve, has any real understanding about faith in God? I know grown men and women who do not. I do know this, that as an “innocent child” (this being subjective) that I believed because I was trusting and hopeful for better things. Living with a depressed and alcoholic father and a physically ill mother in a poor financial situation, I just knew that there was something better for me somewhere in time. I also knew if I was to survive my childhood that I would need a Savior to help me through. A lot of the time I wondered why I had to endure what was called “my life.” I truly don’t remember having any doubt about my decision to accept Christ. I did not sit there in church questioning anything that I heard from the pulpit. I had no theological understanding about any belief. I was simply a child who was led by simply being there and was drawn into the love of Christ by fear and hope. I thought of church as my social life and a safe place. It was where my parents were not…and where my friends were. And if God wasn’t at my house, He most certainly was at His.
When I married at the age of 17 yrs old, I was “running away” from my less than desirable home life. I was running to hope…to tomorrow…to better…to anywhere. I was going to make a home for my husband, myself, and my children to come. I was taking Jesus with me. Married life was a new chapter and I loved the whole concept of being a wife. I, also, wanted to be a mother more than anything. The feminist movement had been lost on me. A career was not something I yearned for as much as I desired children. And so it was, just over our one year wedding anniversary I gave birth to my first child, our daughter Andrea. I took mothering very seriously. I wanted to be the best mom ever. I wanted to be the mother I never had. I would take my children to church not drop them off.
My husband and I had three children by 1979; Andrea, Vanessa, and Brandon. We moved around a lot because of his career. Wherever we lived the first thing I did was find a church for us to attend. I taught my children their first prayers and I read them children’s books about Jesus. I can’t say that I was always a stellar role model because I was anxious, overly sensitive and easy to anger. Aside from my many flaws, I had higher hopes for my children and I was there for them always. I was very involved in their schooling by not only being aware of what was going on but by volunteering in their class rooms , being at every concert, game, competition, performance, etc…you name it. Both my husband and I were there for them. If they had difficulty in a certain subject then I would make sure they got the extra help it took to improve their grades.
All three of our children were baptized at the age of seven. It was a God thing…and not a planned thing. It was a Godcidence that they all were at that same age when they professed their faith. I believe they came in that same kind of childlike innocence as my own. They understood little but believed in Jesus and His goodness. At such young ages they hardly knew about having to be forgiven of sins but only as they grew to maturity in their faith did they realize God’s grace and love. They came to Jesus in total innocence just as we all are to come…with childlike faith and trust. We worshiped in the Baptist faith for most of my children’s childhood but when Brandon was around 12 we became members of the United Methodist church. It is there where we have worshiped the past 22 years
In the horrible aftermath of my youngest’s suicide, I was terribly beaten up by the devil. My mind went to hell and back several times in a day. It was a constant painful existence. I was beginning to doubt my son’s own salvation because of the way he died. I cried out to Jesus to please give me peace. Already things were in place that would begin my path to healing and conquering the battles of doubt. The devil loves to torture all Christians, especially in our hours of darkness and vulnerability. I know without doubt that my son is in Heaven. I know that God’s mercy and grace prevails and that He does not forsake us.
My suffering is part of who I am in Christ. My faith has been strengthened. I am a child of the King….my inheritance is the Kingdom of God. I cannot know why God allowed my son to die the way he did but I can know that it will not go without purpose. Perhaps, his death has had more effect than we will ever know. I end this with a psalm/prayer written by my son.
Prayer ..Brandon’s Psalm
by Michael Brandon Heath
I trust in you, O’ Lord,
my Savior, the One who died and rose again….
the One who brought me in and will carry me out,
the Almighty waters and tides that bring us life.
I come to You when there is no where else to turn,
I come to You when there is.
I look to You as my guiding Light, my Savior….
the One who created all I see-
created my life and dreams before I knew myself~
created my talents and style before I knew the value~
I praise You and adore Your mystery.
I will be strong and conquer as You would want for me.
I beg of your blessings and miracles
even though I am unworthy of Your power….
Yet, I trust in You~
and know You have already begun Your work.
I love You.
I don’t know if that is a good enough word, “love”~
But I know You on a level—beyond words.
Save me Lord.
I will not let go of You.
Hear me O’ Lord.
In Christ’s Powerful Name ￼ Amen….