This beautiful, little pond is in my mother-in-law's front yard. Since arriving at her house on Monday, I have spent several hours sitting in a lounge chair on the front deck, just listening to the singing of the waterfall in the pond, and enjoying watching the frogs, fish, and turtle that live there. It is so tranquil and beautiful, and I love it. It is about 4 feet deep, 12 feet long, and 7 feet wide.
I'm sure I have mentioned in a past post that my greatest fear as a mother is my children around water. When I was little, I had my head held under water until I almost passed out. It scared me out of my wits, and I have never forgotten the feeling. When I think about my kids being trapped under water, frightened, helpless, and in pain, it makes my hair curl and goosebumps pop up over my entire body. Because of this fear, I have always watched my kids like a hawk when they are around water. I also started them both with swimming lessons when they were 1 year old. Each summer I take them into the pool without a life jacket on and let them struggle for about 10 seconds to frighten them a bit. I want to teach a healthy respect of water. So far we have been successful. Snapper, though she is a very strong swimmer, still is fearful of water that is cold, dark, or moving. Pepper understands that if he falls in the water, he will die because he can't swim. But that knowledge did not help him yesterday.
I woke up yesterday morning in horrible pain, shaking with fever and chills. The doctor diagnosed strep throat, sinus infection, and double ear infections. Needless to say, I was out of it yesterday. I went to bed at 5 p.m. and left the kids with Matt. He enjoyed the evening on the side deck, chatting with his sister. They watched Snapper, Pepper, and our niece Alex playing in the side yard. After a while, they realized that Pepper had disappeared from the side yard, but they could hear him making some funny noises. As they listened, Matt realized that Pepper's noises were distress signals. He dashed through the house and into the front yard, certain that Pepper had encountered the wasp nest that is in the picnic umbrella there. To his dismay, Pepper was not being stung by wasps, but was struggling to stay above water in the middle of the pond. Matt knelt down, held out his hand for Pepper to grab, and pulled him out of the water. Pepper was fully clothed when he fell into the pond, complete with heavy, leather sandals. He managed to swim for at least two full minutes, a miracle considering he has never been able to swim for 3 seconds on his own!
This morning I had a long talk with my little boy. I assured him I was not angry with him, and then his whole story came tumbling out. He had been playing in the yard, throwing the ball for Grandma's dog, Kida. He accidentally threw the ball into the pond. Kida is a Golden Retriever who loves the water, but Pepper didn't want to wait for Kida to go in and get the ball. So he sat down on his bottom on the edge of the pond and reached in to get the ball. What he didn't know is that the pond is edged with river rocks, and the rocks are loose. The rock he was sitting on slid into the pond, taking Pepper with it. Here is what Pepper told me, as accurately as I can remember his words.
"I fell in the water and I got scared. I was going to die because I can't swim by myself yet. I was all alone in the pond. But Jesus came and he held my head out of the water. He didn't even let my hair get wet! He made me kick my hands and feet and my head didn't go under. I can't swim but Jesus made me swim until Daddy came to get me. I almost died, Mommy. But Jesus saved my life. Jesus was there with me."
Last night I was awake from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Wide awake, restless, and with a burning throat, I searched my mother-in-law's bookshelf for something to read. One book immediately caught my eye: "In My Father's House" by Corrie Ten Boom. I read for a bit before falling asleep. This morning, I read another chapter while I let my ear drops settle in my ears. The chapter was titled, "Five Is Not Too Young." In this chapter, Corrie describes how her mother tenderly lead her to Christ when Corrie was 5 years old. Shortly after I finished the chapter, Pepper came and climbed into bed with me. It was then that he told me how Jesus saved him in the pond. How amazing the timing of this conversation! Part of what I had just read came clearly to me.
"It was so simple, and yet Jesus Christ says that we all must come as children, no matter what our age, social standing, or intellectual background...Does a child of five really know what he is doing? Some people say that children don't have spiritual understanding--that we should wait until a child can 'make up his mind for himself.' I believe a child should be led, not left to wander."
This morning, Pepper was still close to the personal encounter he knew he had had with Jesus. God prompted my heart to have a most important conversation with my 4-year-old son. During our talk, my normally un-conversational son was intently focused and engaged with everything I said. He interacted with me at a level that is very unusual for him. We talked about Jesus. When I asked Pepper who Jesus is, he promptly replied that Jesus is God's Son. We talked about sin, about how sin is anything wrong that a person thinks, says, or does. When I asked Pepper about sin in his life, he told me about how he has hurt Snapper by hitting her and pinching her. He has lied to Mommy. He has been mean to his friends by not sharing his toys. Then he was quiet for a moment before sorrowfully saying, "And yesterday I sinned too. I disobeyed you and got too close to the pond. It was an accident that I fell in. But I disobeyed Mommy and I almost died." My eyes filled with tears on this confession. My precious boy really understood the frightening events of yesterday, and took responsibility for his wrong.
Then we talked about how everyone is sinful. We were born with sin in our heart. He was quick to remind me that Mommy sins too, and so does Daddy, and Grandma, and pirates, and Transformers. Cute! I explained to him that Jesus never sinned. He was perfect! He always shared his things. He never disobeyed his mommy. He was kind to his brothers and sisters. He always told the truth. When he was a man, he died to take the punishment for the sin of all the people in the world. His death and coming back to life made it possible for us to have a right relationship with God.
We talked about forgiveness. I forgive Pepper when he is sorry for a wrong he has done. Jesus forgives Pepper when Pepper asks for forgiveness. Pepper immediately apologized to me for disobeying me and going too close to the water. Then he wanted to ask Jesus to forgive him. At that point, I asked The Question. "Pepper, you know you are a sinner. You know Jesus is real and that He loves you. You have told me He saved your life in the pond yesterday. Do you want to ask Jesus into your heart, and ask Him to be your forever friend?" He answered with tear-filled eyes and a resounding "YES!"
I told him what he needed to do, how to pray that special prayer. Here is what he said.
"Dear Jesus and dear God, thank you for saving my life in the pond. Thank you for making me swim and for not letting my head get wet. You saved my life because I don't know how to swim. I am sorry for disobeying Mommy and for sinning. Would you please forgive me? And would you live in my heart and be my best friend forever? In Jesus' name, Amen."
He opened his eyes and looked at me with his face beaming. "Mommy! He did it! He forgave me, and now Jesus is my best friend forever!"
Yesterday morning if you had asked me if my son understood spiritual things enough to make a decision for Christ, I would have said absolutely not. But it just goes to show that only God can judge the matters of the heart. God directed sleepless me to a book that prepared my heart to lead my son down the path he was ready to walk.
Oh Lord, thank you for your wisdom! Thank you for opening my blind eyes. Thank you for the simple faith and confidence my 4-year-old has in your presence. Thank you for making him swim and holding his head out of the water. Thank you for saving him, both yesterday and for eternity.
Today we rejoice and celebrate that Pepper is a forever child of God!