Last Saturday was momentous for Tobin and for our family--he accepted Jesus as his Savior! Here is the full story with as many details as I can remember, along with his own testimony I had him write out during the week...
In Tobin's words...
On Saturday I had a talk with Mom. Arden was at Laser tag for Noah M’s birthday party. I confessed that I felt like there was something inside of me making me do bad things and making me a bully. I also wanted to play video games nonstop. At first I thought that I was becoming addicted to them, but then I realized that it was probably the thing inside making me. We read some Bible verses and talked for a little bit about them. Then mom asked me if I thought that I had really asked Jesus into my heart. She said that she didn’t remember when I did it with her. The only times that I did it, I was alone. We talked a bit longer, and then we prayed to God. Then I accepted Jesus into my heart, and immediately I could feel that the thing that was inside was gone. I also felt a lot happier. That night, I told Dad about my choice. He was very happy also. The next day we told Chaplain Keith. He was so excited!
In my words...
Saturday afternoon, about an hour or so before Ted was to leave to take our older boys to a laser tag birthday party, there was an incident involving some inappropriate behavior on Tobin's part. Because he knew full well that what he did was wrong, we told him he would have to stay home from the party. This of course did not go over well, and Tobin stormed up to his room to sulk. I had my hands full with a screaming baby and extra girls who were coming over to play with Charis and Kenna for a little while, so I wasn't really in a position to pursue Tobin and deal further with what had happened...I figured I'd let him sit and think about it for awhile and hopefully talk with him later when he was calmer.
Well, it wasn't too long before Tobin came to find me, tearfully asking if we could talk in my room. I settled Seanin down and was able to give Tobin my full attention, a small miracle in and of itself given the state of chaos in the house!
As Tobin wrote in the paragraph above, he started off by telling me that he knew that what he had done was wrong, but then as at other times, he felt something inside him telling him to do something bad. He was so tearful and broken up about it. Praying for wisdom and the right words to speak, I began asking him a few questions, led I'm sure by the Holy Spirit, gently prodding him to think about whether he had ever truly asked Jesus into his life.
For years now Tobin has had the same salvation story--he remembers sitting on his bed and praying to God to ask Him to forgive him and come into his life. The description of the house where we were at the time means that Tobin was somewhere between 3 1/2 and 4 years old when he says he did this. I've never discounted this story; I've always felt that there was something to it, because he persisted in telling us this whenever we discussed our relationships with Christ. At the same time, I've always wondered...just a bit...only because neither Ted nor I was present with him, and he was SO young. Also, he has never wanted to be baptized, even though he has seen Charis and Arden go forward with that step in their faith.
So over the years, I kept quiet and just prayed, going with the assumption that Tobin was indeed born again and praying that God would reveal Himself to Tobin clearly if that weren't actually the case.
On Saturday, we talked for quite some time. I was so heartbroken to hear Tobin say that sometimes he "heard voices" in his head, basically telling him he would be better off to die and go to heaven. :-( Oh, our enemy does indeed prowl like a roaring lion! Over the years we have had some significant times of what we felt was intense spiritual warfare surrounding Tobin. He struggled with nightmares for a season while we lived in Las Vegas. He has struggled with insecurity and nervous habits (his latest is pulling at his eyelashes--his right eye has almost no lashes!). And there has just always been something we couldn't directly pinpoint, something different about his heart, his behavior, his responses. He always had the "right" answer, yet he struggled with certain spiritual issues.
During our talk on Saturday, Tobin also said that he had experienced times when he wasn't even sure if there really IS a God. We talked about faith, how no matter how much evidence there is (we've been talking about that during our science lessons as we see the remarkable complexity of life!), ultimately our decision to follow Jesus is a step of faith...leading to a walk of faith.
Oh, how precious is the Word of God! I am so thankful for the many verses I had to memorize during my growing up years as well as for opportunities to continually study the Bible. We went to verse after verse, particularly places in John and 1 John, showing Tobin how he can know and have confidence in his salvation. Tearfully we held hands and both of us prayed. Tobin prayed specifically for Jesus to forgive him and be his Savior. Oh, the joy!
The difference was immediate! Instead of going to his room to spend time by himself, he began playing with the house full of girls who were here until dinner time! He was happy, joyful, helpful. His smile was radiant. He was positively beaming!
It has been a week now, and I can honestly say that I feel as if we have a new kid living in our house! While he isn't perfect by any stretch, wow, what a difference I have seen in his attitude and behavior. And he is somehow just more sincere--when he offers to help me, I feel as if he truly wants to, whereas before often I would feel that he just wanted to get something out of it...for example, knowing he couldn't play a video game until/unless the cleaning was done.
Perhaps Tobin had the beginning of a spiritual journey during that time he prayed as a small boy in his bed by himself. But last Saturday was truly a turning point for him. I can't wait to see what God has for him! I have always felt that he may be called to a preaching role some day--a nickname Ted and I have for him is "The Proclaimer." :-) It will be a delight to watch him continue to grow in his faith!