Jayce and I have been talking about Jesus and heaven a lot lately.
I suppose it started because he was having a hard time sleeping: getting scared by strange things, wanting the lights on, waking up in a terror and telling me it was because he'd lost me. We'd already been praying nightly, mainly for Grandpa, but it seemed like he wasn't really grasping who Jesus is.
The first couple of conversations went a little like this:
Me: Good night, Jayce. I love you.
Jayce: Mommy, I'm going to be scared.
Me: Jayce, you don't need to be scared. Jesus is here, and he will always keep you safe.
Jayce: Where is Jesus? I see him?
Me: We can't see Jesus, but he's right here (I pat his chest). He's with you.
Jayce: Jesus is not here. (Jayce gets a little irrational when he's upset.)
Me: Yes, Jesus is here. And he loves you very much. He will keep you safe while you sleep. Good night Jayce.
Jayce is finally at an age that he's been going to a class with a lesson when we are at church on Wednesdays. Every Wednesday morning I ask Jayce what he learned about at church, and he always answers, "Jesus." When I probe just a little bit further, he'll usually tell me that he learned that "Jesus loves me" and then we'll sing the song.
Given Jeremy's dad's health situation, and with the advice from some close friends, I've started to talk to Jayce about heaven too. I usually tell him that heaven is a very special place that God/Jesus lives at, and that heaven is special because no one ever gets sick and people sing songs and everyone is happy there. Of course, Jayce questioned where heaven was; I told him it was up in the clouds. Not exactly based in theology, but an answer that Jayce (sort of) accepted by saying, "I go up in the clouds and see heaven?"
Tonight, I realized that my teaching about Jesus and heaven is starting to set it. As I tucked Jayce into bed, he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I'm going to be scared tonight." I told him that he didn't need to be scared, because Jesus was going to be right there (patted his chest again) with him. Jayce responded by saying, "Jesus is right here. He's cuddling right here with me," and patted right next to him. I got a huge smile on my face and told him that he was exactly right.
Then he moved Goofy to where he had patted and said, "No, Goofy is going to cuddle me. Jesus can be over there."