On April 27, 1983, I was born to my parents. I entered into this world with a body that was born in sin. Though I was newly alive, I was as good as dead. Well, that is until August 11, 2001, when by the grace of God I was born again! Whether you believe, doubt, or scoff, I pray that as you read my story you will be both inspired and uplifted.
I first went to church when I was in either the second or third grade. The church was Calvary Baptist Church in Connersville, IN, and although I never became a baptized member, I did make a profession of faith at one of their vacation Bible school services. If I remember correctly, my “salvation” was pretty much “1−2−3 repeat after me,” and I never truly had a faithful and penitent heart. Of course, as a naïve child I claimed to be saved whenever the topic of religion would come up and did so for many years until I was eighteen.
Throughout my life from that point, I knew I wanted to do good, but for me it was always so I would be good enough to get to heaven. Looking back, I realize I couldn’t have been saved because I never placed complete trust in the Lord to take me to Heaven on his righteousness, not mine. Anyway, I spent many nights praying — in vain — that I would be good enough to go to Heaven. Oh, I also made sure to say the famous “Now I lay me down to sleep…” prayer. I was casually religious and trying to stay out of trouble, but I was unknowingly still just a heartbeat away from an eternity in Hell. Thankfully, that “heartbeat” never came, though, as the Lord saw me through several events where I’ve almost died and gone to Hell. In ’99, I was almost pulled off of life support because the doctors didn’t think I’d survive. Praise God my mom wouldn’t let them!
When I began middle school, I began to be really interested in the paranormal and anything that was “weird.” UFOs, ghosts, parapsychology (psychics and stuff), mythology, vampires and other mythical creatures, and even Wicca were some of the things my friends and I read about and studied. During that time, I went to Full Gospel Trinity Church for a few months with my friend Jason. Full Gospel Trinity was the first Pentecostal church I had ever been too, and eventually the goings-on of that place just became too unsettling for me to keep going.
Eventually high school began, and my interests changed from the supernatural to the natural as I became very interested in popular science. I didn’t attend church for years, but in twelfth grade, God brought a girl about the same as me named Tiffany into my life as a friend. She was my first new Christian friend in a long while, and she also invited me to church a couple of times. It was through her that I would meet the family that would help change my life forever.
It was at the end of May ’01, and I had started talking to another girl, Rebecca, online. I had met her briefly at Tiffany’s church, but she and her family had since been led to a new church. Anyway, on May 21, I started talking to who I thought was Rebecca but it turned out to be Bonnie, her mother — I guess that’s one of those “Internet chat risks” I hear so much about. At first Bonnie didn’t know who I was, but after Rebecca told her, she invited me to church. Of course, it wasn’t until a few days later when I “officially” met them in real life did I find out that I was talking to Bonnie. Either way, that Wednesday, they picked me up for church, and for the first time ever at a church, I really enjoyed myself. I enjoyed the music, the people, the preaching — everything! I was “baptized” into Garrison Creek Baptist Church two months later on July 19, still thinking that I was saved from many years before. I became great friends with Rebecca and her family, and I fell in love with the church. I stayed faithful, and when August came, everything took off in a big way when the church had camp meeting.
The week of camp meeting would have to be the best week, spiritually, I’ve ever had in my life. Tuesday of that week, God opened up my eyes to a lot of things I never would have expected him to, and one of those things was my salvation. I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell me at that time, though, and it wasn’t until Friday night that I got the message clearly. That Friday morning (I wish I could have been at this service, but I missed it), several dear friends of mine felt the draw of God through the Holy Spirit and accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. Rebecca, her sister Jennifer, and her Aunt Dyan all were washed in the precious blood of Christ that morning! Talking online Friday night, Rebecca told me the story of their salvation and what made them realize they weren’t really saved. It hit me… The truth hit me. I felt God pulling at my heart so hard I couldn’t bear not to come to the decision that was ten years in the making: I wasn’t, nor have I ever been, truly saved by grace through Christ. It was around 1:30 AM Friday night when I realized that. I told it to Rebecca, and she went and woke up her mom. She offered to come over to my house that same night to talk to me. When she came over, everything she told me only made me feel the pull stronger and stronger. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t express my feelings, I could barely act… All I knew at that moment was that there was a hole in my soul, and at that minute God wanted to fill it. At around 2:30 AM, I prayed to God repenting of my sins and asking for Christ’s salvation. If I died this minute, tomorrow, or thirty years from now I can truly say that I will go to Heaven; never again will I have to doubt or question my salvation because this time I know it’s real! I thank God for blessing my life with Bonnie and Rebecca, and I thank him for sending them to my house that early August 11th morning. Were it not for them and their testimony, I’d probably still be holding on to my “salvation” from so many years earlier. Thank you, God, for never giving up on me, and thank you for saving my mom later that very same night (Saturday, August 11)! GLORY TO GOD!
Also, just so some of you out there don’t take my testimony the wrong way, I in no way mean to say that you can lose your salvation. Once saved always saved. What I am trying to say in this is that I was never saved in the first place until August 11, 2001. You can’t get saved because you want to. Think of the thieves hanging to the sides of Christ on their own crosses at Calvary (thanks to Jennifer for teaching me this:). One thief only saw himself. He wanted to get off the cross and not die. He feared death for himself, and in doing so he still died. The other thief didn’t think of himself. He saw Christ hanging in between him and the other thief. He believed on Christ right then and there. That very same day that thief, who thought not of himself but believed on Jesus, was accepted into Heaven through Jesus. If you feel the drawing of God, don’t put it off. Don’t repeat someone else’s prayer unless you truly mean it. That’s what I did. I thought someone else’s words could save me. I didn’t believe or understand half of what I repeated, and I know I never felt God drawing my heart. I felt fear for Hell, and that’s it. Eternity’s a long time, and I urge you to make the right decision when God tells you to. It doesn’t matter how many times you have to hit the altar. Don’t worry about what other people think, make sure of your salvation, regardless of how many times it takes for you to be 100% sure. Because baptism comes only after salvation, you may have to be baptized several different times. That’s OK. God doesn’t mind that, so why should you? If people talk, let them. Unless you can say you’re completely sure, then I pray you do something so that you can say that. May God bless and keep you all.