I was babysitting and we were listening to a kids praise cd and dancing around, both Abby and Emmy and I, and I just happened to say something like, "Do you know, girls, that Jesus loves it when we sing to Him? Even if we sound horrible, He still loves it!"
That got the little wheels in Abby's head turning round and round. Soon she asked something like, "Auntie? How do I see Jesus?" If you want to challenge a recent Theological degree graduate, just ask her to answer such a question to a 3 year old...
Thankfully, I know Abby and I know how her mind works, so I started telling her stories about Jesus. I told her about how He came from Heaven and lived here on earth before He went back to Heaven. I told her about the time the men He worked with tried to keep the little children from bothering Him because He was so busy with important work and how He put His important work away and told them to let the little children come to Him and how He played with them and cuddled them and swung them up on His shoulders and chased them around in tag. She was so impressed she kept repeating the story back to me. "He pushed [insert forceful arm motion here] His work away and said, 'Let the little children come play with me!', didn't He, Auntie?"
We just carried on an open conversation about Jesus all afternoon while we coloured and played dress-up and danced and played games.
When her question of, "How do I get to Heaven?" came, I felt my answer of, "You just have to tell Jesus that you believe He is God and that you want Him to be your friend," was so inadequate-- but I knew she'd been freaked out when my sister had encouraged her to "ask Jesus into her heart" before and was very wary of using language Abby could understand. I thought, "Okay, so this is the point where I ask her if she wants to repeat a prayer after me..." but before I could even ask, she was talking to Jesus right there in front of me, telling Him she believed in Him and asking Him to be her friend for all her life....
And just like that I witnessed a miracle :)
We continued talking about Jesus all the rest of the day and at random moments she would sometimes burst into giggles and exclaim, "I asked Jesus to be my friend!" She had so many questions and, in our 3-year-old sort of way, we managed to cover topics such as redemption, salvation, discipleship, evangelism, and eschatology :) Admittedly, she seemed most concerned with things like what colour "beautiful princess dress" Jesus would have for her in Heaven :) Oh, but it's a start. We had cake after supper to celebrate and we called Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Jonah so Abby could tell each of them her news. "My daddy's going to be so proud of me and he's going to hug me so tight!" She declared happily as we awaited her parents' return.
I have prayed hard over this child since she was a tiny baby, that she would grow a radical heart for the Lord along with growing up healthy and strong. How beautiful of Him to orchestrate it so that I was the one to witness this first step... Great encouragement in the midst of a discouraging time. But then, He's pretty good at great encouragement, isn't He?
When I called her mom to tell her what had just transpired, she was slightly sad that she was away when it happened, but mostly just pleased. It turns out her bible study that week had been on leading your kids to the Lord and she'd been praying that Abby would grow curious and ask by her own volition-- since before she'd been freaked out by the suggestion that a grown man should live inside her heart :)
And all of Heaven rejoiced along with this Auntie's heart.