I don’t remember a time when Jesus was not in my life. Central to my belief about God is the tenet that God chose me and that He adopted me into His family in baptism. Ideally, when an infant is baptized, the baptism happens as soon after birth as reasonably possible. Mine was four months after my birth because Mom waited for Dad’s arrival to Bolivia from Costa Rica where he had been at language school.
While it is true that I believe I have been God’s from infancy through the grace He richly poured out upon me and through His allowing me to participate in His death and resurrection through baptism, it is also true that I had to mature into that faith relationship and eventually claim it as my own. Here I have to rely on the retelling of that first occasion when my relationship to Jesus, His choosing me, became real to me since I also have no memory of that event. I do have some memories that are earlier, memories, snapshots in my mind, of the Christmas just before I turned three and pieces of the first trip I made to the US just after I turned three. I suppose I remember these things because of the strong visual impact they had, but there must not have been the same kind of impact (or maybe it is possible I was getting old enough so that there were many more things to remember) with the event we might call my first commitment to Christ.
I was five. Dad had just preached at a service at our church. I don’t know if it was a regular Sunday morning or Sunday evening service or it it was a special evangelistic service. What I do know is that he invited those who heard the message to come forward to the altar to confess their sins and receive forgiveness, to begin a new life with Jesus. I didn’t know the reason they came forward, but I must have been struck by the sounds and sights of penitence, the sobs and tears of repentance as those who knelt at the altar were convicted of their sin and humbled themselves before the mighty grace of God. With peaked curiosity I asked Dad why those people came forward, why those people were crying. He told me it was because they were sorry for their sins and they were asking Jesus to come and live in them. He then asked me if I wanted to ask Jesus to live in me, too. As he tells the story, I said yes; and he prayed with me.