Welcome back to the series, God Meets Us Right Where We Are. Last week, I shared my story of Skating with the Spirit. Today you are in for a real treat. This sequel post recounts a similar spiritual experience of my 11 year old daughter, Ella. For me, hearing about and witnessing the spiritual encounters of children is at the top of my list and when it’s one of my own, my heart bursts with joy. Just a little bit of background…… Ella was baptized in the Catholic church when she was a year old. She was taken to church regularly. As a toddler, her favorite book was her colorful Children’s Bible and she knew many of the stories from a young age. When she was three years old, I met Jesus face to face and began a close relationship with him. I immediately started doing daily devotions with the kids. A year later, the kids and I began attending a Wesleyan church and our faith lives really began to grow.
Shortly after this, Ella was talking with my mom and asked Nana why she hadn’t seen her “church classroom” yet. I knew my parents would be attending our church at least once because I knew Nana could not say “no” to a request like that from her granddaughter 🙂 As I suspected, there was a first visit and to my surprise a few more followed to see the kids in special performances in “big church”. Soon, I was enjoying my parents’ company weekly in the pews. After attending a 13 week course tailored specifically for seekers, they were all in. July 28, 2013 was an amazing day watching my parents get baptized, publicly displaying their commitment to following Christ. All because of the invitation to church by a four year old.
Over the years, Ella has had a faith walk filled with diversity. She has attended a Catholic school and received three sacraments in that church (baptism, reconciliation and communion), attended a Wesleyan church for seven years and gone to a Christian camp associated with the United Church of Christ. Most recently she is now attending a public school, attends a Catholic church and religious education program with her dad and is very active in our current home church which is baptist.
My prayer for her has always been that she would know and follow the Truth as well as meet and experience God face to face on a deep and personal level. I have witnessed her saying several prayers of salvation, but it appeared that they were being said from the head and not from the heart. It was apparent that she just hadn’t “gotten it” yet. So I continued to pray, expectantly waiting for the day when her heart would fully open welcoming Jesus in and publicly display that through baptism.
I have to admit that there were times of discouragement, disappointment and comparison. Witnessing the baptism of children always brings tears to my eyes and I would often wonder when it would be one of my own. Ella had explored baptism when we attended the Wesleyan church, but I knew in my heart the time wasn’t right, she was still at an intellectual level with God and hadn’t really experienced Him yet.
Fear and anxiety tried to take hold as doubt danced inside of me. By this time I was working at the church and was surrounded by my Christian coworkers and their very Christian children. Many kids Ella’s age had already crossed the line of faith, what was wrong with me and mine?
What I didn’t know was how God was working behind the scenes…………………………
Since Ella was born, there have been some uncanny similarities between the two of us. We have all the same numbers in our social security numbers and the last four digits are in the exact same order. Our mannerisms are so very similar, especially the way we talk. We have both lived through our parents’ divorce and remarriage and switched schools during the middle school years. Ella and I have had significant spiritual experiences with God while ice skating in February. That is where we are going now.
This past November Ella came to me and told me she was ready to be baptized. We talked briefly and I knew right away that her faith was real, it was alive inside of her. My heart was bursting with joy and thankfulness. What I heard next almost knocked me over. I will tell it in her own words.
Mom, do you remember when we went ice skating with Dan, Karie and Ben? (My husband, stepdaughter and her boyfriend. This was the first time the kids ever met Dan and Karie as we were dating for only a few months.) Well, when I was skating with Karie and Ben, everything was so peaceful. It was dark out and I could see so many stars. I could feel God and it just felt like the right time to really ask Him into my heart. So I looked up at the sky and told Him. I’m ready to do the next thing and get baptized.
Tears came to my eyes. Not only had God given me the gift of a child following after Him, but He allowed me to share a very deep spiritual experience with my daughter that feels like somewhat of a redemption of the pain that was revealed to me on the ice just five years earlier. My amazement by God’s plans and faithfulness continues to grow constantly. This experience blew me away.
God had met Ella right where she was; holding the hand of her future sister peacefully ice skating under a star-filled sky. God knew how and when to meet her. He knew just how to speak to her nine year old heart in a way that would get her attention. He showed up, like He always does when we invite Him and Ella got the best gift of her life; HIM.
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Join me back here next week to hear how a very sick infant led to a “Holy Hospital Stay”.
Until next Wednesday, I pray you are safe and blessed!