One of the biggest days for parents of young children is their child’s birthday! All over the country, moms go to great lengths to celebrate in a fitting way. One mom rents a clown, another a horse and buggy, yet another a restaurant complete with games and food. Cupcakes or cakes are often spectacular and gift bags beautifully arranged. Even moms (often older, more exhausted, and wiser ones!) who do not go to great lengths still celebrate their child. It’s a rare parent who forgets or ignores this special day. And usually this day is shared with lots of friends and certainly remembered by relatives. It’s an important day. It’s a genuine celebration of one of God’s most precious gifts — our child.
But there’s an even more significant birthday celebration. It’s the day our child asks Jesus to come into his or her heart. Too often, this day is noticed and a parent rejoices, but rarely is this good news shared with others. Oh, how it needs to be!
Recently my friend Jordan’s daughter Glennes asked Jesus into her heart with her daddy. It was not planned or expected. It just happened one night at bedtime. She simply wanted to do this. Jordan was grocery shopping and missed this historic moment, but she sent an email out to friends and family so we could all celebrate with them. I can’t wait to write Glennes and tell her how happy I am for her and how proud I am of her.
Mary Ellen’s son Duncan (age five) has a tender heart. One day he told his mom he wanted his little sister Clary (age three-and-a-half) to know the Lord like he and his brother did. So in his little boy way, he told Clary about Jesus and how much He wanted her to ask Him into her heart. Clary said “yes,” and she prayed with her brother and mom. There was much rejoicing and celebrating. In order to mark this moment, Mary Ellen took a photo of the boys with their sister and sent it out with a note to close friends so we could all celebrate. This photo captures a very significant moment in a child’s life.
All throughout the Old Testament, we notice that the Israelites marked places of significant decisions. They set up stones and built altars to remember special times in their history. These memories would later serve as markers of encouragement in their often-discouraging spiritual journeys. When our child gives his or her life to Christ, it is a significant marker which can become a part of his or her spiritual journey if we celebrate this mysterious work of God.
Some of us can’t remember an exact date when we gave our hearts to Jesus. Our children may have similar experiences of gradual awakening. But at some point, they need to know without a doubt that Jesus is in their hearts. Assurance is simply knowing that if we ask Him to come into our heart and forgive our sins, He will. And He promises never to leave us. Of course, our children will go through times of doubt, possible rebellion, and many re-affirmations; yet Jesus will never leave them or us. So if your child comes gradually to Christ, simply celebrate a day of assurance — the day that he or she knows he or she knows!
The crucial thing is to celebrate. Tell the grandparents, the godparents, and your close friends. Have them write a note or say a word of joy to the child. This will cement in the child’s heart the important decision he or she has made. And it will reinforce the actions of a child like Duncan who longed for his sister to know Christ. We need more kids like Duncan in today’s world!
A wise parent will celebrate this spiritual birthday with great fanfare. It is far more significant than a yearly biological birthday.
Susan Yates has written thirteen books and has spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of marriage, parenting and women’s issues for many years. For 11 years she was a regular columnist on parenting for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Susan is the mother of five and has 21 grandchildren, including a set of quads. She is devoted to sharing her wisdom and experience with moms and wives and is selflessly available to those in need. Susan has been a mom for 40 years, she and John have been married for 43 years.