"Heavenly Father, Help me love you more than anything. Help me go to heaven. Help me feel bad when I do bad things. In Jesus' Name, Amen."
This was my son's prayer tonight at bed time. This is where it came from: He has discovered legos in the past year and they have become a true delight to him - but also sometimes too important. At times we've had to confront him about legos being too important, and about the need to love God more than legos. Sometimes these are battles in our own minds. We don't want to put too heavy a burden on a child. Yet as we pay attention to his heart, we can see the same workings of idolatry that we so often detect in our own hearts (Calvin said our hearts are perpetual idol factories), and we want to help him learn to deal with that sinful propensity of the soul now. Holly often reminds Stephen that more legos will never make him happy - only God can truly satisfy him.
Evidently, some of this is taking, because he was full of questions at bed time tonight. "How do you love God?" "How do you go to heaven?" Also full of honest self-disclosure about what's going on in his heart. We talked for probably thirty minutes about these kinds of questions, what it means to love God, why Jesus died, heaven and hell, et cetera - with lots of five-year old rabbit trails along the way, of course! But with him circling back several times to say something like, "Tell me something else about God." One of the high points in the conversation was his desire to pray - to ask God to help him to love Him most.
It is an awesome thing to be a parent. To have responsibility to watch over someone's soul. Lord, help us do it right. And may your Spirit do that which is humanly impossible in giving these children a taste for your glory. And help us all love you more than legos - or anything else, whatever our toys may be.