One evening at bedtime, we started talking about parallels between this book and the Bible: Aslan (the lion) and Jesus, the white witch and Satan. We talked about how the witch deceived Edmund into betraying his siblings by using false promises and by appealing to his pride. "That's how the devil works," I said. "He makes sin look so fun, but really he wants to destroy us. But Aslan chose to take the punishment that Edmund deserved, not because Edmund was good, but because he loved him so much."
She nodded, deep in thought. "You know how Lucy and Susan watched over Aslan all night after the witch killed him?" she asked finally.
"They remind me of the disciples when they were looking at Jesus's tomb. They didn't know he was alive, just like Lucy and Susan didn't know Aslan was coming back to life."
I was so shocked that I sputtered when I spoke. "Allyson, you really understand the story of Jesus dying on the cross, don't you?"
"Yes. The book helps me understand it much better."
I felt a fluttering in my chest. Was it time? Yes. It was.
"Allyson, remember when you asked me what it means to ask Jesus into your heart?"
"I told you we would talk about it again when you were a little older. Did you ever ask Jesus in your heart?"
"Sort of. But I wasn't sure how to do it."
"Are you ready to do it now?"
So right then and there, I led her in the believer's prayer. She confessed her faith in Jesus and her need for a savior, and she proclaimed that Jesus is her Lord. And then she asked about baptism.
"Baby, I'm not sure you're ready for that yet. I don't know if you understand what baptism means. Maybe when you're a little older."
She brightened. "How about when I'm six?"
I didn't point out that four months might not make that much difference in the scheme of things. Instead, I resorted to the vagueness that surely frustrates her. "We'll see, honey. We'll talk again when you're six."
I kissed her and tucked her in, my heart light. Wonder of wonders, all was quiet in her room. There were no requests for drinks or more cuddles or second trips to the potty. She was out. Or so I thought. About ten minutes later, she called out, "Mama, I think I want to get baptized right away. As soon as I can."
I went back to her room. "Okay, we'll pray about it, and I'll talk to Daddy and see what he thinks." I leaned in for another kiss.
She yawned. "Okay."
At breakfast, her first words were, "Did you ask Daddy about me getting baptized?"
Bill looked at me in confusion.
"No, sweetie. I wanted you to tell him your news first."
She beamed. "I asked Jesus in my heart last night."
Over the next few days, she asked about her baptism continually. Meanwhile, I prayed and sought advice. I thought back to my own baptism at age 9, and how I did it again at age 16 because I felt I hadn't understood what I was doing the first time. How could a 5-year-old comprehend such a sacred decision? Then again, how would I have felt if my parents had made me wait when I was 9?
Ultimately, I decided I couldn't stand in her way. She was elated. And very impatient. I had to make arrangements with Ethan's dad to make sure he could attend, and I had to talk with the minister at my parents' church; I wanted her to be baptized by the same man who baptized me (the second time).
Everything was set for this past Sunday, and Allyson was beyond excited. She told her teachers, her friends, and not a small number of complete strangers that she was going to be baptized. She was downright radiant about it.
And then my dad got sick. He was admitted to the hospital on Friday afternoon with a small bowel obstruction. On Saturday morning, I broke the news to Allyson, who was curled up on an easy chair waiting for her breakfast. I rubbed her leg as I explained the situation. "So, if you get baptized tomorrow, Grandpa won't be able to come. And I know he would want to be part of your special day. But you've been waiting a long time. I know you'll be so disappointed if you have to wait even longer."
Her chin quivered, and she heaved a shaky sigh, her eyes downcast.
"What do you think we should do, sweetie?"
Her voice was barely audible. "I think... we should wait... as long as it takes for Grandpa to be there."
"I think that's the best choice. Grandpa will be glad." I rubbed her back. "Now you'd better eat your breakfast and get ready for soccer."
"Will you hold me?"
"You want me to carry you to the table?"
"No, I want you to hold me."
I pulled her onto my lap, and she wrapped her legs around my waist and buried her face in my neck. I squeezed her so close that I felt her rapid heartbeat against my chest. We swayed back and forth as I stroked her hair. I felt almost guilty to be enjoying her so much when she was hurting. Do you think that's how God feels when we go to him with our hurts?
|Allyson in Kindergarten Classroom|
The next day, we went to see my dad when he got home from the hospital, and we told him that Allyson had decided to delay her baptism. I wish I had thought to take a picture when she hugged him goodbye.
"I'm glad you waited," Dad said. "I want to see you get baptized."
She smiled at her feet. "I wouldn't want you to miss it," she said.
My cup runneth over.