Our lives are marked by a series of milestones and moments etched into our memories. For many christians the moment they believe in Jesus for eternal life is a pretty big one full of struggle and emotion. For me it was a single correction of thought as I sat on my carpet square in Sunday School. The teacher, who also happened to be my dad and super hero, asked if anyone could tell him how to get to Heaven. He, not wanting to show favoritism, didn't call on me to answer but another girl. She said exactly what I was going to say, "believe in Jesus and be good." It made sense to me. The creator of the universe would probably expect you to obey Him in exchange for eternal life. It's the least we could do, right? My dad gently corrected the girl by reminding her of what John 3:16 says and pointed out the missing, "oh, and you need to be good."
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.John 3:16 NKJV
That was it, that simple correction, that simple explanation was all it took for my 5-year-old mind to be convinced. Eternal life began for me at that moment.
When I was 7 I started to understand where "being good" fit in and why it mattered. I learned that Jesus wanted a relationship with me (1 John 3:24). I learned it was going to be hard work (Luke 14:26-33). I got baptized to show all my friends and family that I was ready to start being a disciple (Matthew 28:19-20).
I was so young when I believed. It was so natural. I already trusted in and depended on my parents to meet my daily needs, so it wasn't a stretch to trust in Jesus for my spiritual needs. I am an example of the words Jesus spoke in Matthew.
...Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”Matthew 19:14 NKJV
The struggle for someone who believes in Jesus at an early age isn't getting to the starting line, it is enduring to the end. I've met too many people who believed in Jesus as a child but now put Him in the same category as Santa Clause. How do we maintain that childlike faith? How do we maintain the complete trust that He will provide for our every need?
...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
My first experience with God's grace was at 5 years old when I believed (Ephesians 2:8-9). But, I've experienced His grace everyday since then. The majority of my sin has happened after I was saved. I wander like a lost sheep at times. I worry about things outside my control ignoring the fact they are completely in His control. I get focused on things of the Earth instead of thinking of His Kingdom first. Yet, His grace is there.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."1 John 1:9
I have to draw on the faith of that 5 year old little girl sitting on the carpet square to believe the second part of that verse. If we can overcome our pride to confess our sins, if we can overcome our doubt to believe He forgives and cleanses us, we will have fellowship with Him.
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.1 John 2:28 NKJV
Isn't it interesting John refers to believers as "little children" when He directs them to "abide in Him" so they can be confident when He returns? His audience is a group of christians. They do not need to fear where they will spend eternity, but how they will spend it. He's urging them to stay in God's light (1 John 1:7) because when He returns all believers will have to give an account of the choices they made, of the life they lived. Whether you discovered God's grace as a child or as an adult I pray that you can draw on that "childlike faith" it takes to abide and stand confident before Him when He returns. I pray that we all finish this race well. Let's enjoy the journey as we grow up in grace.