For Thirty Years I Thought I Was a Christian
For over 30 years, I fooled myself into believing I was a Christian. But I was really lost. My name is Beverly Hammett, and this is my story. I grew up in a Christian home. My father was a pastor, so I was in church from the time I was a week old. As a child, I always wanted to be good and would do things that I knew would please my parents and others. I remember hearing about needing to be saved, and I knew it was something I needed to do in order to please God and my parents. So when I was young, I don’t remember exactly how old, I remember going forward in church. I don’t remember why I went forward, I don’t remember if I was convicted about my sin, I don’t even remember if I prayed to get saved. I don’t remember anything except going forward at the invitation and kneeling by the front pew with my father. For many years I looked on that time as the time of my salvation.
But as I got older, I started having doubts about my salvation since I could not remember repenting of my sins or praying to the Lord to save me. If a person comes face to face with the fact they are a lost sinner, and turns to Christ in repentance and faith, it is a life-changing experience; something they will never forget. As a teenager I remember praying several times, “Lord, if I’m not saved, please save me.” But that is not a prayer that will save anyone since it is not an admission of sin and guilt. In my heart I had no peace. In the back of my mind, I always had a nagging shadow of doubt. I could never say for sure I was saved. I did not know for sure that I was going to heaven.
As I got older, I remember even being angry with God for making me a “preacher’s kid.” I attended public school, and because my father was a pastor, a lot of the kids at school didn’t want to be friends with me and avoided me. The boys especially didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I wanted to go out on dates and have fun like the other girls in school. As I look back on those days, I’m thankful that God kept me from doing anything foolish or stupid that would have ruined my life. Right before I graduated from high school, I “rededicated my life to the Lord,” trying to get rid of the guilt and emptiness I felt in my heart.
“I knew that my thoughts and actions were not right, even though I was not saved.”
In September of 1972, I met a young man named Doug Hammett. He was going to Bible college and studying to be a pastor. When we were married in February of 1974, he thought he was marrying a saved woman, since I had told him I was saved. Suddenly I was a pastor’s wife. Now it was easy to push away the conviction that was in my heart. Surely I must be saved. Look at how God was blessing my life. Look at what I was doing for the Lord. Even though I did not have assurance in my heart, I would rationalize away my fears by pointing to my life and all I was doing for the Lord.
Because I wanted to please the Lord and my husband, it was easy to live a Christian life and serve the Lord. I was only doing what I knew I should do to please them. When the doubts would come up, I would just shove them to the back of my mind and get busy serving the Lord. During this time I would tell other people that they could know for sure they were going to heaven, even though I did not know that for sure myself. I even led people to the Lord and discipled them. I figured since I was living a “Christian life” and doing what I was supposed to do, I surely must be saved, even though I had no concrete assurance or any witness of the Holy Spirit that I was truly saved. However God kept bringing doubts and conviction back to my heart. Anytime I would hear a sermon on the rapture or the second coming, I would be filled with fear because I had no assurance of my salvation. There were several times that I remember walking in the house expecting to find my husband or my children, and for whatever reason they were not there. When I could not find them, I would immediately go into a panic, figuring that the rapture had come, and I had been left behind. Then I would find them and excuse away my fears as an overactive mind. The Bible says in 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear.”
“The fear I was experiencing should have made me check things out, but I just ignored it and went on.”
God kept working on my heart, and soon it became harder to push off or explain away the conviction. In October of 1994, Bro. Gordon Silcox came to our church to preach a revival. The Lord really worked in my heart during that week, and I finally began to admit to myself that I might indeed be lost. But the devil began to work in my life also to keep me from getting saved. Several people were saved during that week, and others in the church began making comments about how they were just emotional and had already been saved. I began to wonder what people would say if I got saved. After all, I was the pastor’s wife. My prideful and deceitful heart began to think on all the good things I had done for the Lord and to try to convince me that I was indeed already saved. Then I began to wonder what it would do to my husband’s ministry if I were to get saved. All these things combined kept me from getting saved. I just pushed it to the back of my mind again and went on “serving the Lord.”
Over the next two years, I had a real struggle in my life. My heart told me I was not saved, but my mind kept saying I was. I was getting desperate to have this matter settled. In September of 1996, we had Bro. Ken Shaffer preach a revival meeting at our church. At the beginning of the week, I asked the Lord to clearly show me whether or not I was truly saved. Praise the Lord, He answered my prayer! During the week, each one of his messages pounded away at my heart. All week long, the Lord worked on my heart, convicting me of my sin and showing me that I was not saved. Two statements he made really got my attention. He said, “If the Lord is putting conviction in your life, it is there for a reason.” He also said, “God is not impressed with your good works.” I knew both of these things in my head, but God pierced them in my heart and made me start really thinking about my true condition.
Pride was a big monster in my life that I had to overcome to finally admit where I was. It takes a lot of swallowing of pride and a lot of humility to finally admit you are lost when you consider yourself a pretty good person. Late on Friday night after we got home from the revival service, I finally talked to my husband and told him about my doubts and my conviction. He was rather shocked because I had never shared it with him before. He told me to try to think back to the time when I had said I got saved and try to remember what I had done. Well, I had been trying to do that for several years and couldn’t remember anything about it.
“I had even prayed to the Lord to help me remember it, but I could not because there was nothing to remember.”
The Bible says in Jeremiah 17:9, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” All night long, I argued with God about how I surely was saved. After all I was a pastor’s wife, I lived a “Christian life,” and God had even answered some of my prayers. Just look at all the things I was doing for the Lord. Since I had always considered myself a pretty good person, it was hard to admit that I was a dirty, rotten sinner. I knew that I had committed a few sins here and there, but God showed me that I was wicked through and through. That night the Lord showed me my deceitful, wicked heart; my rotten, sinful condition; and how my good works meant nothing to Him. Finally, early Saturday morning, September 21, 1996, I let go of my pride and admitted I was lost. I knelt by my bed, humbled myself before God, and asked the Lord to forgive me for being so stubborn and stupid. I repented of my sin and asked the Lord to save me. I also thanked Him for His longsuffering and His mercy and for not giving up on me. At that moment my heart was flooded with God’s peace. I no longer have to doubt or wonder if I am saved. I can now say that I know and I am 100% sure that I am saved, and there is no shadow of doubt in my heart or in my mind.
I urge you to examine your life. The Bible says in 1 John 5:13, “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” God says that if you are saved, you will know it for sure. If you don’t have complete and full assurance that you are going to heaven when you die, something is not right. Check out your salvation. Don’t fool yourself for so many years like I did. I know now that I am saved and on my way to heaven, but look at all the time I wasted because I was a fool. Don’t be caught in the same trap!