Charlie, when I was younger, I knew a man who would not sing Jesus Loves Me to his children... Because they weren't yet converted and how was anyone to know if Jesus loved them? Because, said he, they needed to know first that they were God's enemy before they could understand a need for Jesus.
It broke my heart then and it still does today.
Charlie, this is what I want you to know. Your Mommy and Daddy were once like sheep who had gone astray. We thought we could find our own good fields of grass. We trusted ourselves to find our own fresh water.
But Charlie, sheep are silly animals, and we are like them. We pick grass that makes us sick and water that leaves us thirsty.
We were, indeed, enemies of God. But one day, the Good Shepherd called us by name into his fold. He made a way for us to move from enemies to friends; orphans to sons and daughters. And here we have been ever since--eating the good grass and drinking the good water and being cared for by Jesus himself... Who knows the longings of our hearts even before we can give them words.
And because we are here, you and your brother are here too. Sometimes your Daddy and I still make the mistake of eating the grass that leaves us wanting and the water that births thirst... But now, in this pasture, we don't have to. And this grace upon grace that The Good Shepherd offers us-- we get to bring it home to you.
Oh, Charlie, what mercy and grace that you get to grow up in the good pasture! You may not know Jesus by name yet, but He walks among us daily. He is taking care of our family.
One day you will make a decision. You might decide to wander outside of the gates and look for nourishment elsewhere, but I hope you don't ever have to feel what life is like without a Shepherd. What we are praying is that this pasture and this Good Shepherd will be so beautiful to you that you won't even remember making a decision to stay. You will stay because it's good. And you won't even remember when the Shepherd stopped being just your parents' Shepherd and became your own. He will walk beside you, call out your name to follow-- and I pray you drop everything to run to His feet.
Because He is good, Charlie.
Right now, by your very nature, you believe the lies that you can take care of yourself better than the Good Shepherd can. But we are praying, even as you are still able to sit on my lap, that your eyes and heart will know Truth. That death is life.
Charlie, long ago there was a commandment for boys and men to be marked to show that they and their households served the true God. Blood was shed. But now Jesus has shed all of the blood, and He just asks us to let Him wash us. Baptism is a marker that we belong to God and a sign that points to Jesus-- the one who makes us clean. On Sunday you were baptized. Telling the world around us that you live in a household that serves the One True God. And telling you that you are not an outsider. We will never push you outside the gate and tell you find your way in... Charlie dear, sit in our laps and listen to us tell love stories about the Good Shepherd and know that His love and promises are for you, too, if you believe.
As the baptism ended, our pastor carried you down the aisles as the whole church lullabied you with "Jesus Loves Me." I fought back tears because I believe it, Little One. I will sing it to you every day. To Him you belong. We are weak, but He is strong.