I am reminded today of when I first asked Jesus to come into my life. We were at a funeral, I was 7 or 8 years old. Nothing but fear pushed down my throat in attempt to get me saved so that I don’t go to hell did the trick. It was an open casket, and it was the first time I have ever seen a dead corpse. It scared the living day lights out of me, and I began to question why people die. I remember someone taking me up to the casket and telling me that there is nothing left in that body, and that their soul has gone to heaven. I then began to question this whole thing called, death. Nice people who my family knew were there. They quietly took me aside and started telling me ‘why’ death happens, and what comes next. I did the typical sinners prayer because that was the way to get saved of course and without those spoken words, ‘it wouldn’t happen’. After hearing that, I was so afraid that if I didn’t accept Jesus into my heart then, I would be the next to go, and even worse, I would end up in the pits of hell. There’s nothing like scaring kid’s to death to persuade them to do something, it works every time. After that, I was afraid of sleeping by myself, and believe it or not I was still afraid of the dark. Images of that dead body played in my mind, and thoughts pertaining to where I could end up, taunted me. I was scared.
When I look back at this time in my life, I am saddened that I came ‘to know’ my Savior through fear and guilt. I was a kid and only had a mind of a child. I was a child who cared only about playing, and discovering; a child who had years of development ahead of her. I never imagined what a huge responsibility I had in this life until that day. Until they told me that it was up to ‘me’ to take responsibility to not get thrown into hell by God. This was the first picture I had of God, that if I wasn’t on His side, I was going to hell. I heard that God loved me, but those words meant very little to a small girl who was deathly afraid of a God who had the ability to place her in hell. The bottom line was I was afraid of God himself. From that moment on until about 3-4 years ago, I never once thought this fear-based obedient Christian life was an illusion, until now.
I am heartbroken that there are many children out there that have similar stories like mine. Who came to know God through fear, not love. That in the depths of their little souls, they only want and need to know that they are loved through grace and that no matter what they do, they will still be loved by the Father. They then come to understand and know that they can love God back, not because they feel forced or feared into loving Him, but that loving Him is a choice, not a responsibility.
Learning to live loved by Father makes all the difference!