Lydia climbed in bed with me with tears streaming down her face. "What is wrong with you, beautiful?" I asked. Pulling her close to me, I let her cry for a few minutes; afterall, sometimes girls just need a good cry. Finally, Lydia raised her head and pulled back. She sat with her longs legs crossed in front of her, and wiped the tears from her face using the back of her hand. "Mom, I just don't feel like I am being a very good Christian right now. I need to be reading my Bible more and praying more. Sometimes I even say a prayer before I eat and don't even mean it in my heart at all....I am just saying words. Do you believe I will go to heaven?"
Lydia just turned twelve years old. What would make her tender heart doubt salvation? It just goes to show, I guess, that salvation is difficult at every stage of life. Trusting in Someone we cannot see with our eyes, touch with our fingertips, or sit at a table and have a meal with is not easy some days.
"Lydia, do you believe the Bible is true?" I asked.
Still wiping her eyes and nose: "Of course I do, Mom."
"Then finish this verse for me: 'Whatever you do for the least of these.....' ", I quoted the scripture and then paused with a grin, knowing Lydia would quickly repeat the rest; and she said aloud: "You do it for Me."
My bed became a "church" as I reminded Lydia how her entire life is worship:
Every day, Lydia crawls around on the hardwood floors playing a game of hide and seek with Hope. Lydia crawls around a corner, and Hope comes running to look for her. Knowing Lydia will be around the corner, Hopey squeals with excitement, flaps her hands, and then peeks her head around to find Lydia jumping out at her and tickling her without mercy. Hope loves the game and laughs so hard sometimes she cannot get her breath.
Daily, Lydia holds Charlie in her arms and snuggles his little face close into her neck. She gently pecks little kisses on his head and around his ears making loud smooch noises and he absolutely loves it. In response, Charlie digs his pudgy hands deep into her long hair in an attempt to pull himself as close as he can get to his big sister. All the while, Lydia is saying: "I yuv you Char-Char".
Lydia is quick to change a diaper, fetch a snack, or mend a boo-boo for her little brother and sister without complaint. She serves them beautifully with a smile and soft voice. Lydia could be in the middle of practicing her guitar, which is her favorite hobby, but if Hope wants to go outside and comes to grab Lydia's finger to pull her to the door, Lydia promptly puts her guitar away and accompanies Hopey for outside playtime. Looking out the window, I find one girl 5 feet, 5 inches tall playing make-believe with a little munchkin who barely stands as high as her waist.....the little one never guessing she is any different than every other gal in the world.....the bigger one never seeming to notice the little one's weaknesses.
I could tell story after story of Lydia's selfless love for Hope and Charlie. Funny thing is, Caleb and Natalie's list would be just as long as Lydia's. Each of the older children sacrifice daily for the little ones, and they do it without hesitation....in fact, they do it with eagerness, joy and laughter.
Natalie is out of town at Camp Tonawandah, so I couldn't bring her in on my conversation with Lydia, but I did call for Caleb. As he joined Lydia on my bed that had become a church, I took several minutes to commend them on their pleasing service to Hope and Charlie and then reminded them of the verse: "Whatever you do for the least of these, you do for Me."
Reading the Bible is important. Prayer is important. However, I believe that true worship takes place when we purposefully bend our will to help someone who is considered "least". If I am moved by the hearts of Caleb, Lydia, and Natalie toward Hope and Charlie.....how much more must the Father's heart be moved?
I explained to Caleb and Lydia that evening how I know that I know that I know they are both going to bust heaven's gates wide open one day. God measures our hearts first and then he measures the actions that flow from our hearts. I assured them that God is not taking notes on how often they open their Bibles, how often they bow their heads to pray, or how often they walk into a church building. God is way bigger than that. I told them, though, that God does take note each time they encourage Hope through a "transition" meltdown in a store or restaurant...when they choose to show compassion for their sister's needs instead of becoming embarrassed by her struggle to overcome anxiety.....In addition, I believe God shouts with joy each time they pull out their guitars and do "rock in roll" with Hope and Charlie to "This Little Light of Mine" or "Jesus Loves Me".......and I also believe He cries with them each time their hearts are moved to tears over their love for Hope and Charlie.....for instance, I have seen times when Hopey willingly seeks out Caleb's lap, wraps her tiny arms around his neck and gives him a kiss on his cheek...all on her own---in those unique times when Caleb is so moved by Hope's love that tears fall down his face and he holds her tight, God gets it.....perhaps no one else on earth understands that kind of love, but God does. And when Natalie and Lydia, huddled in prayer the night before Hopey is to have an open-heart surgery, are crying out to God to spare their sister's life.....God gets it, and He is moved by it.
Caleb and Lydia left the room with a renewed sense of God's calling in their lives that evening, and possibly a better understanding of their heavenly Father. My heart, too, was left full; I can't even describe it. Each day, I have the privilege to watch salvation with my own eyes. No, "salvation is not of works....lest any man should boast"....but salvation is a heart moved to action. I am so grateful God chose our family to place two little ones who could teach us much about Him.