• facebook
  • instagram
  • twitter
  • mail

To Know and Follow Hard After You

I had the opportunity, privilege, and pleasure to baptize my oldest son this weekend.   I’ve been asked many times, “As a Children’s Pastor, I bet you’re really excited to do this, huh?”   My answer is usually nice and cordial, but to be honest my excitement over my son’s eternal salvation has nothing to do with being a Children’s Pastor and everything to do with being his father.

From the time my son was in vitro, from those early morning hours of feedings, to the first steps, to the first bites of carrots, first soccer games, first words, first days of school and so forth and so forth; my prayer for him has been the very same.   I have prayed the words of a song that was popular around his birth.   They are the words to that song “One Pure and Holy Passion.”

Give me one pure and holy passion
Give me one magnificent obsession
Give me one glorious ambition for my life
To know and follow hard after You

It has been my prayer that when Ryan seeks after God he would find Him there waiting.   It has been my prayer that when confronted with his own inadequacies and faults, it would be the reaction of his heart to reach towards Christ.   It has been my prayer that when he admits his sin, believes in Christ, and confesses it with his mouth; that his next move would be to follow hard after Christ.

I often tell parents that most kids aren’t really in a good place to understand this until they are around 8 or 9 or even 10 or 11.   There is no hard, firm age for these things; but there are some things we can look for in our children to know if they are ready.   I encourage parents to not rush their children into a decision, and instead work to demonstrate living, active faith before their children.   I also encourage them to quickly reward the curiosity of their children with answers to life’s questions and questions about God, faith, and morality.

But my son has proven to be an exception.   Ryan is the most thoughtful, deep, profound, inquisitive, and reflective 7 year old I’ve ever been around.   I know, I know… it’s my son and I’m biased.   But I’m telling you, there are not 7 year olds like my son.   He’s just in a different place emotionally than most 7 year olds.   He’s different.

When he began to ask questions about faith, it wasn’t from a “What do I have to do to be like others?” or “I want to be baptized, what now?” perspective.   It was more from a “Why would someone pray to Jesus?” and “I’m thinking this sin in my life might be a problem, Dad.”   His mother and I diligently answered his questions, but never put the question back on him.   We would answer and leave it til another day.   Eventually the questions became more and more frequent.   One night after an exhaustive journey through Romans, he was really struggling with a decision.   I told him to just think about what he knew, and I would be here if he needed any help.

After a half hour of thinking about it, he approached me and his mother to ask, “I need to tell God my mistakes, and tell him I believe.   I believe all these things about Jesus and I need to tell him.”   I told him to go ahead and pray, and without putting words in his mouth he prayed for God to forgive him of his sins, and told Jesus that he believed in Him.   He did it all on his own.   He was taking the first steps towards following hard after Christ, and I couldn’t be more proud of him.

You can see more of what we did after Ryan’s Baptism to celebrate his decision, and the impact of so many other people in his life on my wife’s blog at http://www.lostinlaundry.com/2009/10/were-widening-circle.html.

She summed it up perfectly:

My prayer is that as my kids grow, these people will be around to give them the same messages I’m giving, but in a different voice and from a different perspective.

Thank you Lord that in the short time we’ve lived in Lubbock, you’ve made us a part of a spiritual family. Thank you for these people who love and influence our kids toward loving You. Bless them Lord, and keep providing opportunities for authentic relationship.

Jonathan Cliff is married to his wife Starr and they together live out their days with two sons and a daughter. Jonathan serves as one of the Pastors at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, Tennessee; where he works with leaders throughout the city to help develop Christian community that leads to deep and meaningful spiritual friendships. His journey has been an adventurous one, having served in the local church for 15 years in family ministry developing leaders, building environments for kids and students to belong, and encouraging parents to take big spiritual steps with their families.