Last week (Tuesday, May 24, 2016 to be exact), my 6 year old Ripley accepted Christ as her Savior. For me, it seemed to out of the blue but in reality it was in the works since the foundation of the world; thousands of years in the making. In Ephesians 1, Paul says starting in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”
Since the moment my wife (Teresa) told me she was expecting a baby, I prayed for the unborn child. First I prayed for health and then for the child’s salvation. I didn’t care what the sex would be; I didn’t care because I knew that I would love the child regardless. When we found out Ripley would be a girl, I prayed that I would be a father who she could see the unconditional love that our Heavenly Father has for her. I’ve prayed for 7 years for Ripley’s salvation (starting when she was just a few weeks old in Teresa’s womb). I’ve prayed that she would have spiritual eyes to see her need for God and to have spiritual ears to hear the Holy Spirit’s call to her. Both Teresa and I have tried to show Jesus Christ in our lives so Ripley can see Him in action. We have both prayed with and taught her Bible lessons. The churches we have been a part of since her birth have partnered with us in teaching her who God is, why Jesus came and dead (and rose again), and how the Holy Spirit works in the lives of God’s people. After praying and teaching Ripley these past 6-7 years, both Teresa and I were somewhat dumbstruck when Ripley approached us.
This is Ripley’s Song (or story) in short. Teresa and I watching PBS Masterpiece theater and Ripley was sitting on the floor reading one of her Charlie Brown Encyclopedia books. We were maybe 45 minutes in the program when she climbed up to Teresa and said, “I’d like to be baptized.” I heard the sound of brakes squalling in my mind when I wiped my head over toward them both. Teresa looked over to me puzzled. Teresa turned over the T.V. and started asking her questions. I know that 6 years old is young and both Teresa and I knew this question would be asked in her time. Teresa directed Ripley to me (the preacher), and I asked her why she wanted to be baptized. I found out quickly (as did Teresa) that my skill set would be over her head. Teresa took over talking with her (Teresa’s been working with children for a long time). After Teresa explained the reason why people get baptized; it’s a picture of Christ’s death (on the cross), His burial, and His resurrection. That baptism comes after we accept Christ as Savior. Neither Teresa nor I pushed Ripley because I had to be her decision. After Teresa and I spoke with Ripley about accepting Christ, we both felt we should leave it up in the air and revisit it with her on Wednesday. We wanted to let her think about it more. After about an hour and half of discussion it was Ripley’s bedtime. We had her get ready for bed. At bedtime, we both pray with her. That night, Teresa prayed with her and then I prayed with her. This time after I prayed, Ripley prayed.
Ripley said the sweetest prayer I have ever heard. She said, “God, I love you. Thank you for loving me and dying for me. I’m sorry for my bad stuff [what Teresa used to illustrate sin]. Please take all my bad stuff away. Please come into my heart so I can live forever with you in heaven.”
After her prayer, Teresa and I kissed her good night. When we left her room, Teresa and I talked about the prayer. We both agreed that it sounded like a salvation prayer. We prayed together and said we will follow up with Ripley the next day. Well 20 minutes later, Ripley comes out of her room and announced that she has God in her heart. We talked with her and she was spot on with saying God lives in her. We did a dance together as a family because we told her all of heaven is celebrating because of her news. I picked her up and hugged her so tight with big tears (of joy) rolling down my cheeks. I was praising God like I haven’t in a very long time. You see my 7 years of prayers were answered that night. My baby girl is now my sister-in-Christ.
Ripley’s song continues throughout her life. She will be baptized on Sunday, June 26. Our church’s Executive Pastor has told me I will be able to baptize her. I have no idea what the future holds for Ripley but I know Who holds our future. Ripley loves music, dance, and acting. I have no doubt that this could be how God could use her. My prayer now is that God will use her in any way He wishes to use her. She is His child; Teresa and I have been blessed to bring her into this world and love her but she is His.
Thank you for reading Ripley’s Song.