I was a perfect child.
At least, I thought so.
I mean, I might have fought with my sister sometimes or stretched the truth here or there, but I wouldn't do anything bad. I was a good kid, a good person.
When I started seeking God in middle school, I'm not exactly sure what motivated me. It definitely wasn't feelings of guilt or despair at my sin. Don't get me wrong, I needed Him. I just didn't know it, yet. I was a good person, remember? Actually, I think that was probably it. I realized that the other "good" people, like my best friend Bryn, were going to church and reading Bibles and talking about God like he wasn't just a cloudy guy up in the sky. If this was the good-people's club, it was where I belonged.
Eventually God got through to me, but not before years of treating grace and forgiveness as accessories to my already-good life. I just didn't get it. I was selfish and prideful and blind to my need to be saved from those very things. It's nice that Jesus died for those thieves and criminals, was my take. Good thing I'm not like them.
Thankfully, M will probably never have to go through those years of foolishness. He is fundamentally different from me. The wonderful silver lining to his sometimes-mischievous, often-wild, adventure-seeking personality is that this boy of mine, at four, knows that he isn't perfect. He makes mistakes and then feels sorry. He recognizes sin in his life and, what's more, knows that trying harder isn't the answer. How's an imperfect person supposed to be perfect, anyway? Monday night, M prayed to give his heart to Christ.
I remember side-eyeing people when they'd tell me they accepted Christ at 4 or 5 years old. It just didn't seem like they could really grasp it. I can't speak for any other four-year-olds, but M is the most genuine person I know. He doesn't know how to pretend. His confession was honest and simple, and he understands, at four, what took me years to understand. I spent my first years as a Christian confused, thinking that following God is about what we do. It's not. It's about what He did. So those things I didn't think a four-year-old could grasp - how we're supposed to feel, act, and respond to God's gift of salvation - aren't important. It's just taking a gift, and every four-year-old knows how to do that.