But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
I didn’t consider not taking my boys that day.They were just 5, 3, and 1-year-old at the time.
I had been to countless services since I was a child. But this time, my great-uncle had passed away and I wanted my little boys to come to the memorial service.
Little did I know that this first memorial service would change my son’s life forever.
We prayed about how to talk to the boys and gently explained to them that Uncle Lawrence’s heart had stopped working and that he was now home in Heaven with Jesus.
On the day of the memorial, we dressed in Sunday best and drove the short distance to the funeral home. Uncle Lawrence’s casket was at the front of the room surrounded by floral arrangements and pictures of him in his youth.
We had an opportunity to see his earthly body one last time. I took my 3-year-old Quinn in my arms and lifted him up so he could see over the edge.
“See, Quinn, it’s just Uncle Lawrence’s body but his spirit is with Jesus in Heaven. It looks just like he is sleeping.”
Quinn nodded his head and peered intently into the casket. He wanted to come back and look several times over the course of the evening.
I know that our calm and gentle explanations helped our boys to consider it a peaceful and respectful time to remember him, and that there was nothing to be afraid of. I hoped that they would see that death is real, but it is nothing to fear, especially when we have a glorious hope of Heaven to look forward to.
As the memorial came to a close, we eventually left for home. But it was what happened a week later that made this experience one I will treasure all of my days.
It was nap time and I took Quinn to his bed and tucked him in. I began to sing to him as I always did. After a few minutes, he sat up in bed.
“Mommy, remember Uncle Lawrence? He’s in Heaven. I want to go to Heaven too. How do I go to Heaven, Mommy?”
I explained to Quinn his need for a Savior as I had done many times before, and read John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”All he needed to do was pray and ask God to forgive his sins. This was the only way that he could go to Heaven.
And then he said to me, “Mommy, let’s do it now. I want to ask God to forgive me for my sins. I want to pray.”
Right there, on his little toddler bed, Quinn prayed and asked Jesus into his heart.He has never forgotten it. Quinn has a growing desire to please God and it is evident in his sense of conviction and in his sincere prayer life.
I know that explaining life and death to children and memorial services can be a very emotional and difficult event. Certainly, it needs to be approached in an age appropriate way, with wisdom. But I also know that when we have hope and can embrace that this life is temporal, looking forward to God’s good plan for our lives, that we do not need to be afraid about how our children will react. God can even use those sad times to draw a little child to Himself.
As parents we often want to shield our kids from pain, but we may be missing opportunities to point them to Christ in the process. It wasn’t an easy thing to prepare our boys for my uncle’s funeral, but it was worth it to show them that God has a good plan for every person’s life. The message hit home for Quinn that day. Death didn’t have the victory. Life was born through our loss and that’s just like our Great God. He is our Redeemer. Redeeming death. Redeeming us. Redeeming sorrow and creating joy in unexpected ways.
Amber lives in Southern California with her husband and 3 boisterous sons under the age of 6. She writes about faith and family from the perspective of a work-at-home mom as a Hollywood producer and writer. You can follow her God-sized dream journey and their “Testoster-Home” at www.motherofknights.com.