I was saved when I was only eight years old. This is not a boast. If anything, it causes a bit of a concern.
While I am immeasurably grateful for my salvation in Jesus Christ and fully cognizant of the fact that He has saved me from pain, scars, and dangerous pathways unknown to me, I can’t help but feel at times that there is a part of my story missing. Sometimes I wonder if it would have been better for me to have been saved later in life.
Let me say, this isn’t one of these conversations:
Me: “Why don’t I have a cool testimony like a drug dealer?”
You: “But a testimony of God’s faithfulness from a young age is a cool testimony.”
Me: “Wow…I never thought of that before. Thanks! (high-fives)”(scene)
This isn’t one of those. This also, I pray, is not a slight at those who were saved later in life. This is simply a reflection on my own journey.
This is a confession that as I sing the great truths of the faith and celebrate the Gospel of salvation from death in sin and hopelessness apart from Christ, an emptiness rattles in my chest of a deep knowledge that my pre-Christ hell-bound race was run in Ninja Turtle Velcro low-tops.
While I assure you, I was dead in my sin even as an elementary-age kid and I still struggle with my sin today, the timeline in my mind doesn’t have a big line through it of before and after. It simply emerges into memory as one already united with Christ.
Was I saved too young to really appreciate it? How can I declare the truths of the depraved hell-bound son of Adam in me when I barely have any recollections of that person and time? How can I appreciate the cross and the crucifixion of the old man when he was so young?
Having a young son has put this in perspective for me. My son is three years old. I love him as a father and would give my life to protect him. I fear for his safety and try to equip him with knowledge and understanding about harmful people and the dangers of unknowingly listening to those who would lead him on dark paths. He is so fragile in this world – so alone.
Yet when he came into this world, he was not alone. Before he could even walk, there with him stood his sinful man. This is his sin-nature handed down through Adam. It is his default. It is his true nature and self apart from Christ.
This man stands next to my son day and night. He rises with him in the morning. He echoes his every step during the day. He sleeps with him at night – whispering blasphemies and drawing him deeper into a perilous world apart from God.
Where this man would lead my son, only hell itself could imagine. While I cannot see him or hear his whispered words, he is just as real a companion to my son as I am myself. He wants to destroy my son. I hate this man.
Still, the same sinful man stood next to me from the womb. He hated me but whispered such words of desire and intrigue. He would have continued with me step for step until he laughed over my grave – exalting in the pain, loss, injury and sin he had convinced me would lead to my happiness. He would have held me by the hand as a child and walked me through worldly pleasures, warping my worldview to see fool’s gold as treasure and the truth of the Gospel as nonsense.
God intervened and confronted this man at the side of a naïve eight-year-old child. He not only confronted him, he grabbed him, dragged him, held him down and plunged nails into his wrists. He placed nails in his feet, stabbed him through with a spear, thrust a crown of thorns on the fileting scalp and bone of his forehead. He crucified this sinful man with himself and as a child, took my hand and filled it with that of His Spirit. The Spirit would now be my guide. The Spirit would now whisper words of truth. The Spirit would lead away from the wide path toward hell and destruction and walk with me down the narrow path that leads to eternal life. The Spirit would save me and declare truths to me through the Scripture and make it sweet.
For those of us who were saved young, we may not remember this natural man, but we feel him continually shaking and pulling away from the nails on that cross. We may hear his words and his cries for life, but we also have the knowledge that his end is secured.
As I think of my young son and envision any man coming alongside him with ill intent, my blood boils. When I think of this spiritual reality, my knees shake, and I pray to God in heaven through Christ that He will intervene and remove this man from my son. I pray He will do it soon. I pray my son will have no recollection of ever having walked under this sinful man’s direction and will not remember his face in his dreams. I pray God will save him young. And then I realize that’s what He did in his grace for me.
Envisioning this spiritual truth and scenario in the life of my son helps me appreciate God’s intervention in my own life at such a young age. It helps me consider the man I was saved from and the Man I was saved by. Thanks be to God in Jesus Christ that we were not left to battle this man alone. Thanks be to God for His intervention to save sinners. Thanks be to God that His death on the cross was our death on the cross and His life in the Spirit is now given to us.
“For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).