I am still a young mother, with only a little over 5 years under my belt. But, I tend to feel overconfident and think I am ready for anything. Then my confidence is shattered when something happens which shocks me and completely catches me off guard.
The other day while we were driving, Catherine asked me "Where is God?"
I knew there is no way I could explain the concept of omnipresence to a five year old, so I said "He lives in heaven, sweetie."
Catherine's response was a dramatic "Oh man!," showing complete disappointment as only a small child can. I thought she was going to start crying.
I asked her why it bothered her that God lived in heaven.
Still with a disappointed tone of voice, she said "I want Him to live in my heart!"
Remember that I was driving a car at the time. I mistakenly thought we had several more years before she would have any chance at understanding the plan of salvation. So, I had so far put zero effort into trying to figure out how we would talk with her about these issues. I was completely unprepared.
I was shocked that she even knew the phrase "live in my heart." I assume they taught her this in church, because I don't think we have talked about this with her. We pray to God with her, but I have always doubted that she knew who God was. We have taught her some of the concrete Bible stories, but have not gotten deep with her.
She still seemed upset, so I told her that when she was ready God could come live in her heart.
That night Robby and I told her that we need to start talking with Catherine about her salvation. A friend of ours evangelizes to children, so we asked her to speak with Catherine. Unfortunately, the afternoon when we were able to meet with our friend didn't work well because Catherine was completely unfocused. She wanted to play more than listen to a theological discussion. But, at least we laid some groundwork.
We described Jesus taking the penalty for us as concretely as possible. I said "What if Sabrina disobeys Mommy. Instead of Sabrina getting spanked, you get spanked instead." Catherine's eyes bugged out, then teared up, said "no," and started rubbing her bottom with her hand. So I think she got the concept.
We tried to explain what faith and belief are, but I don't think she got it. I need to figure out better ways to teach her those concepts.
We'll keep trying!