Like all Christian parents, my wife, Lisa, and I relate to the words of the apostle John: “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4).
Everything we might wish for our kids in this life—education, love, financial security, job satisfaction, health—pales in comparison to our prayer that they believe the gospel and be saved.
So when our daughter Grace received Christ at a young age, we rejoiced. We also found ourselves thinking ahead to when our son Evan might do the same.
“Will he believe at an early age, too, or will he resist the gospel for a long time?” I wondered. “What if he chooses a different path, a difficult path?” “What if he never believes?” That thought scared me.
Salvation is God’s job, but I knew I had an important role to play as Evan’s father, and I didn’t want to blow it.
I also knew that my son is very different than his sister. Grace is outgoing and decisive. She prayed and received Christ as her Savior and Lord on her own and confidently informed us after the fact.
Evan, on the other hand, has a tender heart. He says "I love you" more than the rest of our family combined. “I love you, mommy. I love you, daddy. I love you, Grace,” he often says. I worried that tender Evan might feel pressure from me to pray a certain prayer or believe a certain way, and comply out of a desire to please. So Lisa and I agreed to just wait on God's timing and to try not to lay any stumbling block.
The names of Christ
Then, last Thanksgiving, after many months of praying together over Evan’s bed at night as he slept, Lisa and I began to sense that God might be working in him. Approaching his eighth birthday, Evan started reading his Bible on his own and praying with us during family devotions. I remember when he proudly told me that he had actually sang the worship songs with the other kids at church that Sunday—a very big deal for a boy like Evan.
That’s when we decided to use the new Adorenaments® resource—a set of ornaments created by Barbara Rainey and FamilyLife. Evan loves decorating the tree, so it seemed like a good fit. We took our time, working through the booklet together as a family over the course of several days. As the kids hung an ornament—each representing name of Christ—on the tree, we would learn together about that name and discuss how that could impact our family.
Immanuel, God with us. “What an awesome thought to have God with us!”
Prince of Peace. “Wow, doesn’t our home need to feel God’s peace more often?”
Wonderful Counselor. “Let’s ask for God’s counsel right now together.”
And so forth. Each Christmas ornament a new family discussion about Jesus.
And when we came to the Savior ornament, God’s Spirit did something wonderful and miraculous.
As Lisa laid down with Evan for bedtime that night, his soft little voice expressed a desire to pray and receive Christ. After asking a few questions Lisa knew this was the moment we had prayed for and waited for. She prayed with him and then sent him to tell his daddy. That night I had the chance to talk with Evan about Jesus and to pray with him to the Savior.
After he eventually fell asleep I thought about the final words from the devotional earlier that night, "Hallelujah! What a savior."
What a Savior indeed.
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Looking for help or inspiration this Christmas? Be sure to check out the FamilyLife Guide to Christmas. Also, FamilyLife offers several resources to help your family focus on Christ during your Christmas celebration. The Ever Thine Home® Christmas collection includes Adorenaments and other decorations help you honor Christ and proclaim your faith. The 12 Names of Christmas™ ornaments are designed to help you teach your children about Jesus is and why He came to live among us. And in When Christmas Came, Barbara Rainey reveals the substance of Christmas in poignant prose and vivid watercolors.
FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.