Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Testimony

Growing up in a Christian family, having devotions every night, praying often as a family, going to church every week, and you can see why I've wanted to become a Christian for as long as I can remember.  I didn't want to go to Hell when I died.  Heaven is where I wanted to be, living up there on golden streets, never crying, never getting in trouble.  Living splendidly with Jesus.  I thought I could earn all that if I was saved.  Boy was I wrong!  I don't, can't earn anything from my Lord and Savior.  The Bible says "...All our righteousnesses are as filthy rags..."  We sin even when we try to do good things.  And if we sin in everything we do, how can we possibly even hope to earn a single thing from Jesus Christ?

When I was 11 years old, a boy in our church who was 12, made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized. And I thought, If he's 12 and he's saved, why can't I be saved, too? So, I made a decision: I was going to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ.  Dad and I had recently been having late night discussions on the Bible, mostly Dad talking and me listening.  So, that night, I asked to talk to my mom and dad.  This is what I said right off to them, "I believe the Lord has saved me, and I would like to be baptized."  Thinking that would be it, that they would cry a little and congratulate me on my "decision", I was surprised when Dad asked me why I thought that.  Well, what do I say now?  Remembering the talks I'd had with my dad, I said, "Well, everything you told me about God, I believe."  "So, it's just me you believe," Dad said.  Long story short, I fumbled my way through, making even myself half-way believe I was saved.  The next Sunday, Dad took me to talk to the pastor and the assistant pastor of our church, and I told them what I had told Mom and Dad.  They also asked me a few questions and with tears in my eyes, I answered.  My baptism was scheduled for 3 weeks from that time so that my grandma could see me baptized.  During those 3 weeks I convinced myself that I really was saved and that I wanted to serve God.  After I was baptized, I was even surer of myself.

Everything was great!  I wasn't going to burn in Hell, I had been saved, I was baptized, I was protected.  I started reading my Bible and if there was something I didn't understand, I'd ask Dad.  Every once in a while, I'd even boast that I'd read this many chapters in the Bible or I read Psalm 119 all in one day, and wasn't that something?  I even sent out some letters that I'd been saved and that I wasn't going to Hell, I was going to Heaven when I died.

After a while, the excitement faded,  I wouldn't read near as much, wouldn't even pray very often.  There were times when I would start to doubt my salvation, but then I'd remember I was baptized.  My pastor baptized me, and he certainly wouldn't baptize me if he didn't think I was saved.  So, that would give me a little comfort.

Over the next few years again and again that doubt came back, and it was really bothering me.  I even talked to some girl friends and told them that sometimes I don't think I'm really saved.  They'd turn around and say that they thought I was saved, that the way I acted made it look like I was saved.  I even had one friend tell me that she knew my heart, she knew what was in my heart and I wouldn't have made a profession if I didn't believe I was saved.  That stuck out at me - big time!  I didn't know much about God, but I knew enough to know that He was the only one who knew my heart.  And when I thought of that, it really scared me.

I kept thinking back to that day when I told my parents I was saved.  Am I really saved?  Or aren't I?  But I've been baptized.  But baptism doesn't save a person.  Oh, I'm so confused!

Sometime when I was 16, I started doubting my salvation, and I couldn't comfort myself in any way, couldn't make myself believe I really was a Christian living for Christ.  It tormented me!  But I didn't tell anyone.  What would they think if I did?  I had already been baptized, said I was saved for 5 years.  And if I just up and told someone now what I was dealing with, they would have said, "So, you've been lying all these years."  That was what I thought.

I couldn't shake the feeling of despair, helplessness, hopelessness.  I knew I was lost, and I didn't know how to find myself.  I wasn't really happy anymore.  I tried to hide it, but Mom and Dad both noticed it and said as much.  I tried to make something up, but I'm not sure if they believed me.

I would think of everything I've done, and try to see if I could remember anything that I had truly done to try to please God.  I couldn't think of anything.  Anything at all.

Then, one March night in 2010, I was lying in bed (couldn't sleep), thinking of all the sinful things I'd done.  And so suddenly I became (and I don't use this term lightly) overwhelmed.  I was so completely overwhelmed with all my sin that I felt like dying!  I cried out to the Lord Jesus to save me, to forgive my sins against him.  I poured everything out and laid it at His feet.  And if you're reading this and you're not a Christian, you won't understand when I say that at that moment, I felt the most peaceful peace all around me.  Christ Jesus took my sins and bore them on the cross at Calvary.  He redeemed my soul that night.  He made me a sheep in His pasture.  I am a child of God's!  Praise the Lord of Hosts, He saved my soul!  You've never truly felt peace unless you are child of the Most High.

Now, it's not about going to Heaven when I die.  Now, I want to serve the Lord in everything I do, say, and even think.  If I died and went to Hell, I'd shout His praises at the top of lungs until the end of eternity!  He is the Lord!  He is God!  He's my Redeemer!  My Savior!  He's my Lord Jesus Christ!  He owns me, and no one and no thing can ever take that away!  So, praise Him, glorify Him, and bless the Lord, o my soul!

I implore those of you who are not saved to seek the Lord with all your heart.  God's Word says, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."  -1 John 1:9