When I was about 4 years old or so back when people told their kids to watch for cars, and come home when the street lights came on. When Mom’s didn’t feel the least bit self-conscious or worried about swatting the kid on the rear in public if they were lippy with them, or if they didn’t follow the house rules. If you weren’t home, they stuck their heads out the door and yelled your name down the street at the top of their lungs. Frequently, in my case my Mom would start off with the names of one of my brother’s and finally hit the name she wanted. If you are a parent you know how that is…Any way, there was a neighbor girl who I am thinking was probably about 8 or 9 years old. She was older than all of us by a number of years, and since she could read well I would put her at that age. I cannot remember her name, but the impact on my life I will never forget, though at the time I didn’t realize it.
This girl invited all of us neighbor kids probably about 6 or so of us up to her room in her house and she had a tract in her hand from some church which told how to take Jesus into your heart. She simply told us about what she knew about Jesus, and then she asked us if we wanted to take Jesus into our hearts too.
I remember thinking, “Well, that sounds like a good idea.” So I agreed. She read to us and had us all repeat after her this prayer written on the paper in her hand asking Jesus to forgive us and come into our hearts to live in us. We all followed along. There weren’t any of us who said, “no, I don’t want that.”
I would like to tell you that I understood exactly what I was doing, but I am sure to tell you that I only remember thinking that it sounded like a good idea. You know as a 4 year old you have a very simple understanding of God. He is someone who is “magical” “powerful” “invisible” can be “angry” is “loving” and he is “safe”. God is someone you definitely want to see when you die, as opposed to seeing that other guy, The Devil! God’s house is way more fun sounding, it has angels that fly and harps too. No one fights or hits or hates there. You can’t even bang your foot there. How can that not sound great to anyone? Even a 4 yr old can see it!
Now, that was really the beginning of my journey with God. I did my prayers before that, but I don’t really remember anything except the dreaded “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep, if I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take” prayer! I say dreaded because I really hated that “if I should die before I wake” line in that prayer, I mean, really…who teaches little kids these realities? I used to lay awake at night as long as I could because I was worried about it.
Anyhow, the first time I really remember dealing with the issue of salvation is with the neighbor girl. So when I am asked about my conversion experience, there it is. I would like to say that everything was rosy and great after that, but it wasn’t. Life rarely is, and when you take Jesus into your heart it is like putting a bell on a cat to Satan. He is on high alert, and wants to do everything he can to wreck your faith and destroy your belief in God. As it says in the Bible, he comes to steal, kill and destroy. (John 10:10) He is the great deceiver. Many things happened to me in my childhood after that which were not pleasant to say the least. I won’t go into details except to say that miraculously my faith remained.
I can’t say it really grew at all. It remained very child like. I read the children’s Bible and my Mom told me Bible stories, but we really didn’t go to church. Mom took us once or twice, but it was hard to get all of us together and over there early in the morning. A minister once offended my Mom so badly that she never went back to that church. As an adult, I am sure that what she thinks he said to her, was not meant the way he said it or particularly aimed at her. However, the damage was done. I went to church a couple times with friends, and mostly when I was a bit older I went with my Great Aunt. I really enjoyed it when I got to go, but then we started moving around a lot and that was the end of it until I was out of High School and a working adult.
Well, I have to say, that I will never disregard the possibility of a child having genuine faith even while they don’t understand fully what faith is, or sin is, or who Jesus is. I think this is what Jesus meant in the Bible when he said, “Let the children come to me, don’t hinder them, for to such as these belong the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14)
Children simply trust what is said to them. I trusted what the neighbor girl said to me, and it changed my life. God has upheld my faith for my entire life even when I didn’t really understand anything at all with any depth. I intend to maintain my “childlike” trust in God for the remainder of my life…the trust that says that God says what he means and means what he says..God is trustworthy.
So this is my first testimonial. I hope that you enjoy reading about it, and will share some of your own with me.