Does an eight year old know much about eternity? In my backyard, I considered the decision I made in church earlier Sunday morning. Jesus could redeem a sinful person from death. I didn’t know him face to face, nor had I seen him in a pew at church, nor would I ever recognize him if I saw his face. Yet, I knew him. I wanted friendship with him. According to the preacher, salvation came to me when I believed that Jesus died on a Roman cross and rose from a sealed tomb. The preacher said the decision I made was a result of a choice God made. He chose me. I knew him because he wanted me. Unlike picking teams at recess, God chose me even when I was bad at the game.
The tree I sat in creaked a bit with the wind. Salvation was new to me, but I knew it must have old roots that anchored this whole idea of eternal life. The preacher said that even young kids could know Jesus if they would just trust the message about Jesus. He said those who know Jesus live forever in eternity, but those who reject Jesus spend eternity in hell. I didn’t know much about hell but I supposed it was a bad place. Eternal life with Jesus, in my eight-year-old understanding, demanded a new life. Like that creaking tree, the life of a Christian was rooted in the life of Jesus. Trusting the message about Jesus meant putting down roots for a lifetime of growth.
Looking back much older, the events fade a bit. My elementary understanding gave way to more sophisticated understanding of theology and justification. Yet, the memories of my conversion still provide comfort when I fail God. I recall the testimony I made through baptism and my commitment to Jesus in that creaking tree. The message of Jesus proclaimed simply to an eight-year-old remains the message I proclaim to others. Though I have changed, the message I believe remains unchanged. Though I grow more sophisticated the simple message of Jesus remains potent and powerful.
Does an eight year old know much about eternity? He knows what I still believe many years later. Salvation through Jesus impacts an eight year old for life. Even now when I sit in my backyard lawnchair, I renew my allegiance to the simple message of Jesus I believed at eight years old.