I got saved when I was a small child. I don’t remember exactly how old I was. But I remember exactly where I was and exactly how it felt.
I vividly remember standing in the middle of our church’s gymnasium during a week of VBS. It was the end of the week, and the main leaders were preaching a child-geared sermon all about what it meant to be separated from God.
It terrified me.
At that time, my 8-ish-year-old self thought that I had prayed ‘the prayer’ already with my parents. But that prayer hadn’t felt special or meaningful. It was just another prayer. The feeling I had in the pit of my stomach while listening to these VBS volunteers was one of true fear and desperation as I came face to face with the realization that if I died right there in that moment, I didn’t know where my soul would end up.
So I prayed. And it went a little something like this…
“Lord Jesus, I’m pretty sure I’ve already prayed this prayer, but I’m not sure that if I died today I’d go to Heaven, so please just save me again so that I won’t be separated from You.”
I laugh a little now when I think about the innocence of that prayer, but I have never doubted my relationship with Christ since that moment.
But there have been times where I have been annoyed with my testimony. Fast forward to high school when I started attending a different church. As I got to know members of the church, I learned that many of them celebrated what they called a ‘spiritual birthday’. An exact date, time, and year when they came to know the Lord. Many of them found relationship with God in their adult lives, and therefore could remember more of the experience.
This completely frustrated my angsty teenaged self. I allowed it to make me feel like my testimony didn’t matter since I couldn’t remember quite as many details as these other Christians could.
Recently I re-encountered Mark 5:41. A ruler had come seeking Jesus because his daughter was sick and he longed for Jesus to heal her. But while speaking with Jesus, a member of the ruler’s house approached him, advising him not to bother Jesus for his daughter had already died. But Jesus went to the home anyway, and in His true and infinite love, took the girl by the hand and said to her, “‘Talitha cumi’, which means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, arise'”. Immediately her little body filled with life.
Now usually when people talk about this story, they talk about how the faith of the ruler was enough to save his daughter (and that’s true). But for me, the story of the little girl felt so familiar, so personal. Because of both the intercession of her parents and the beautiful plan of God, this little girl experienced rebirth through Christ that would impact her for the rest of her life. Her salvation in childhood was a true gift, and so is mine.
I have been blessed with the privilege of truly knowing God for the majority of my life. The years saved outweigh the years lost. And as I take time to reflect on that, it feels so shameful to think that I ever once felt like my testimony was something to be ashamed of.
I’d like to say that as soon as I read this passage, I immediately received a vision of how my social media would blossom into a full blown ministry of encouragement and spiritual direction.
The reality is, I picked the name “allisonarise” as my Instagram handle because I liked the alliteration and I wanted something a little more exciting than just my name. I wanted something that didn’t make me feel dumb; something I didn’t think people would judge or make fun of. It was seriously over a year later that I came across this passage, and even then it took me a while to fully embrace.
Over the past few months, I have been meditating on this verse more and more and I have come to this conclusion. It is a true gift to be saved when you are a child. I have been blessed with the privilege of truly knowing God for the majority of my life. Granted I still have tons to learn about Him. But I have been in relationship with Christ longer than I have been lost. The years saved outweigh the years lost. And as I take time to reflect on that, it feels so shameful to think that I ever once felt like my testimony was something to be ashamed of.
If you’re like me and you were saved when you were just a kid, may I encourage you to really reflect on how great a gift that is. Getting saved when you’re a kid is almost like getting extra time added on. You’re mission is longer. It starts sooner. And that’s not something everyone can say. Only some of us have been gifted with the chance to bear witness of Christ from a young age. So never, ever, let you testimony be something you hide under the rug. Your story matters. You matter. And those of us who have been saved since we were kids need to not waste our time with the idolness of today’s world. Get going. Wake up. Feel the pressure of the mission. Sense that time is running out. Live in freedom and glory and grace. Run as hard as you can. Hold nothing back. Give everything you’ve got. Just cling to Christ. Let Him take the years and mold you into someone extraordinary.