Like Madison, I was seven years old when I accepted Christ. I have heard people since question whether or not children "understand" and some who accepted Christ as a child have added to that argument by saying they themselves did not "understand" and they barely remember it. Some even say they do not remember doing so. I remember... I so clearly remember and yes, I knew exactly what I was doing... just like Madison.
Tears filled my eyes as I read your blog for it brought back the memories of my own salvation. I can so clearly see how the Holy Spirit was gently leading me to come to Christ! There was a gradual realization that I was a part from God. Yes, even though I was a child... there was a growing realization that this was so. God loved me! Me! He so wanted to embrace me but... there was something between us. Did I want it removed? Did I want to walk with Him? I don't know how much time passed but I started to ask questions much like the Philippian jailer. How do I know if Jesus is in my heart? What must I do to be saved? I am a child, can I really come to Him or is salvation only for grown-ups? These were the questions I had.
On that day before we went to our Sunday School classes, there was a prayer for the unsaved families of the children who attended our Sunday School. They prayed over those children and for them and their families. I was seized with a desire to go up and ask Jesus into my heart but... that wasn't what they were praying about... or so I thought
Fortunately, my mom who was sitting next to me, listened to the Holy Spirit when He prompted her. I was sitting silently... longing to go forward and yet reluctant because there had been no "altar call". She leaned over and asked me if I wanted to go up and pray. Tears suddenly ran down my face as I told her I wanted to but couldn't because there was no altar call. (Pastors will take note of this I hope)
My mom told me it was okay. Even though they were praying about something different, I could still pray. I could still ask Jesus into my heart if I so desired. I did! She led me by the hand to the altar. I knelt down and simply told Jesus I was sorry. Would He please forgive me? Would He please come into my heart.
He reached over the "barrier" which stood between him and that little girl so long ago. He reached over and took her in His arms and wrapped them tightly around her... and He has never let go of her.
Yes children do understand. The problem is not if they understand, it is really if the adults in their world had taken the time to talk with them, to teach and disciple them. Please note that I used "talk with" as opposed to "talk to". My experience over the years as a teacher and a pastor is that kids are amazing and they will rise or fall to our level of expectation of them. Treat them with the respect every creation of God deserves, talk with them, show them trust that they can understand and make decisions, raise the bar in terms of what you think they can accomplish and they will amaze you. Treat them like people and please note "raising the bar does not mean demanding in an authoritarian manner ... it means encouraging, praising, and gentle prodding to new heights.
In His Love,