Salem’s had a ton of questions about Jesus and heaven for a while. We as adults have so many statements that we say in common “christianese” that make sense to us because we’ve been emmersed in this language for such a long time, and so often these things make no sense to little ones who are trying to put the pieces together.
I only realized this summer that Salem thought heaven was a place a person might go away to for a while, but they’d eventually come back. We talk about heaven frequently, so it was surprising that he thought it might be a temporary place. He got this idea when his beloved Grandaddy passed away. We would tell him in the best way we knew how, “Grandaddy is in heaven now. He’s very happy there. We will see him again one day.”
Translated to Salem, that meant Grandaddy took a trip somewhere called heaven for a while but he was coming back. He began asking us, “But when is Grandaddy coming back home?” It was a hard reality when we had to tell him that Grandaddy wasn’t going to be coming back home after all. He wept. He’d been waiting anxiously for Grandaddy to get back from this place he went where he was happy only to find out he wouldn’t ever be coming back.
A lot of questions about heaven have followed those conversations. Questions like, “When I die, will you carry me to heaven? I don’t want to go there by myself.” And, “How will I know how to get there?” Then more questions came. “Does it hurt when Jesus comes in your heart?” Ha! More terminology that is super confusing to little kids. And “I won’t say booty and butt anymore after Jesus comes in my heart?!” (Haha!)
Yesterday Salem came into my bedroom and asked me, “Mama, am I a son of God?” This got us into a great conversation about what it means to be God’s child and how a person is born again. I told him that Jesus wanted to be his King and to lead his life and all he had to do was ask him.
He told me, “I’m going into my room to do that RIGHT NOW!” He came back a few minutes later and told me, “I’m a son of God!” (Melt my pea-pickin’ heart)
I told him, “When Jesus is our king, he makes us NEW! You are a new person in Jesus!”
Salem blinked a few times and then asked, “Okay. But is my name still Salem?”
Hahaha! I laughed my head off at that! But loved it! It’s had me thinking about how spiritually our name does change when we cross over into the kingdom of light. We have a new identity in Christ. Because we have put our trust in Jesus and his death and resurrection, his atonement has put us in right standing with God. We can come boldly to that throne of grace to receive help because our identity is new and we are covered in Jesus. We really do have a new name.
We are no longer named lost, hopeless, orphan, forgotten…we are no longer titled by our mistakes or our struggles. We aren’t liar, stoner, abused, victim, whore, addict, attention seeker, or gossip.
We have a new name. We are now called daughter. We are called son. We are called Beloved. We are called priests of our God. We have hope. We have purpose. We are loved fully and covered completely. Jesus isn’t some thing we add to our collection of experiences, life highs and life failures. Christianity isn’t some addition to a list of our talents and hobbies that we edit into our Facebook profile.
We really are a new person, called by a new name, with a perfect Savior’s attributes moving inside of us and a kingdom supply at our disposal backing everything our King asks us to do. We have the power that raised Jesus from the dead inside of us. We have been given all things pertaining to life and godliness, and we have a new name.
Jesus saw what he had made us to be before we took the step to receive the life he had for us. He wiped away the shame and breathed his precious Holy Spirit into what was dead. All of the rotting memorials we had tirelessly built inside of us that were once so grand in our sight, and feebly positioned on pillars of pride and rebellion, well they all fell at the feet of Jesus- and there they now rest in a crumbled pile in their rightful position.
The nations will see your righteousness, And all kings your glory; And you will be called by a new name Which the mouth of the LORD will designate.