“Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2, NKJV)
Before we start, please understand I am not trivializing corrective discipline or salvation. I am simply sharing a slightly humorous childhood experience with eternal implications.
My siblings and I have a rare legacy. We were raised in a Christian home by parents who were dedicated missionaries outside the USA. As such, Biblical concepts permeated every aspect of our lives. No matter the life situation, Dad, Mom, even grandparents engulfed us with Bible verses. From the King James Version, of course.
Any slightly inappropriate comment was met with “Fools make a mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9). If we looked guilty about some infraction, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Num. 32:23). When we insisted on disobedience, “A prudent man foresees evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished” (Prov. 22:3). We became familiar with the rod of correction, stripes for the backs of fools, driving foolishness from the heart of a child… You get the picture.
Scripture memorization was the basis for our small allowance. We earned a nickel for each memorized verse. At our Saturday evening family gathering, we each recited the verse(s) we learned that week. If we quoted correctly, Dad would pay us. If we didn’t have any ready, umm, that was spiritually shameful. To this day, I’m still not sure why verses like “Jesus wept” or “Then Job answered and said” didn’t qualify. Hey, I searched the Scriptures diligently to find those short verses!
If you suspect I was a sneaky scoundrel, you’re absolutely right. Of course, what child doesn’t look for the easy way? Guessing at words on reading assignments. Rushing through chores. Answering “Yes” because “No” meant an encounter with the belt of correction.
But lest you perceive my parents were horrible, controlling, or abusive, quite the opposite is true. They raised five children on a very small household income while being involved in Christian ministry. Parenting is difficult. Parenting a large family on a small budget is challenging. But doing it under the scrutiny of Christian ministry, well, my parents deserve eternal rewards. Now that I am a parent as well, I understand and respect their diligence more clearly.
That said, mixing such spiritual influence and scriptural knowledge with a sneaky scoundrel provides some comical moments. Yet at the time, I didn’t see the humor in them.
Just before receiving one such well-deserved encounter with dad’s belt, I thought of a great idea. I sobbed, “Daddy, I wanna get saved!” Even as a child, I thought for sure his evangelistic heart would spare the time to go over the plan of salvation with me. Or at least spare the rod, maybe even forget it altogether? Of course, we all knew the Romans Road by memory. To be honest, I wanted to distract him however possible to get out of a whippin’.
However, my Dad was a very wise man. He kindly walked through the steps necessary for my salvation—after he administered my punishment. Unfortunately, I tried this distraction repeatedly, praying through the sinner’s prayer with Dad each time.
The Old Testament prophet Jeremiah accurately said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9, KJV). My seemingly very spiritual ploy only confirmed my deceitful motives. Thankfully, Dad valued my eternal disposition more than my short-term comfort.
Eternity confirms salvation is the most critical decision each person will ever make. Coupling that with the narrow choice between only two destinations reveals the significance of the decision. Through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, He took our place for the penalty for sin. By rising from the dead, He conquered sin, death, and hell. Through such a relationship with Him, by which we are “born from above” (John 3:7, KJV), we can rest assured of an eternity in God’s presence in heaven.
As a parent, please consider the following:
- If you have not accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, I encourage you to do so today. This very moment. I made that decision wholeheartedly on March 14, 1978, and have never regretted it.
- If you have accepted Jesus Christ, I look forward to seeing you in heaven one day. You’ll probably find me with my dad, laughing together over how many times I got “saved” as a child.
- Finally, please include spiritual direction in your parenting methods. Along with teaching, also model applicable spiritual truth. Live out your faith each day. Shower them with God’s Word. Remind them of His love and invitation for a personal relationship. Even Jesus remarked how child-like faith is more readily fostered. As you prepare them for this life, also equip them for the next.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on natestevens.net
Featured Image by Ben White