This past year my oldest daughter started to ask a lot of questions about God. I have tried really hard as a mom to raise daughters who ask their own questions about God, instead of just regurgitating everything I think or say about Him. I don’t want to raise little robots for Jesus; I want my girls to follow Jesus with full abandon. But, apart from the Spirit and my awesome hubby, I often feel like I’m going at this blind. I have no clue what to say to them, except what Scripture has shown me.
We’ve spent her whole life talking about God and having all kinds of conversations about Him, but it wasn’t until this year that she started pushing back on the validity of Him. She wanted to determine if He was really the way, the truth, and the life. For months she would ask questions and then sit on them. She would confess to me, “Mom, it’s really hard to believe in this.” All I could reply back was, “I know, baby. It’s really hard. Keep asking God to give you faith to believe this is true. He says He gives to those who ask. Keep asking.”
After all those questions, one day she came to me and said, “Mom! Guess what? I believe! I believe God is true! I believe all that I’ve learned about Jesus. It doesn’t all make sense yet, but I believe!” (Let’s go ahead and pause here to insert all the giant tears I was crying!)
Read Romans 10:9-10 and note what two things you have to do for salvation.
It’s as simple as that: “confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.” We confess by telling God and others that this is the real story. And we believe not just in our minds, but in our hearts, that the crucifixion and resurrection stories are real. That’s what I told my daughter.
Then we started talking about what’s next. I told her that the next step after she had realized that God is the one, true God is to choose to follow Him and His way instead of her own.
Read Matthew 16:24 and note the three things we do after we confess and believe.
This next part might be even harder than believing, because this is where faith moves from our hearts to our feet. To be a follower of Jesus, He says we have to do three things: deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.
First up, we have to deny ourselves. I don’t know about you, but I’m a super selfish person. By nature we all are—we want what we want. However, the first thing we are asked to do is deny ourselves. Jesus says elsewhere, “The last shall be first, and the first shall be last” (Matthew 20:16). Then He said, “The Son of Man (Jesus) came not to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). Jesus was all about denying Himself for the sake the greater plan and the glory of God. So we are asked to lay aside our own desires for the glory of God, too. In other words, where our desire and God’s desire disagree in any situation, God wins.
Second, we are to take up our cross. During the time period I became a Christian, a popular method for winning a non-beliver to Christ was to talk about this “peace that passes all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I remember feeling a little tricked after becoming a follower of Jesus. Don’t get me wrong, I have zero regrets. But I had no clue it would be so hard. I wish someone would’ve told me that taking up our cross means that we too, just like Jesus, must pick up suffering.
John 16:33 promises us that “In this world you will have trouble!” Trouble will happen. We will all pick up our crosses. However, that verse doesn’t end there just like Jesus’ story didn’t end on the cross. He says, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Finally, Jesus said that we have to follow Him. Following God is as simple in concept as the childhood game of Simon Says. We fix our eyes on the one we are following, Jesus, and we do exactly what He did. The awesome thing about following Jesus is that you aren’t “out” when you don’t follow Him perfectly. You confess that you took your eyes off Him, turn back to Him (repent), and follow Him again. You know how to follow Him when you read His Word; this is your constant guide to help you grow as a follower of Jesus.
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