As a young girl, I attended several different churches off and on. One summer when I was eight years old I attended a neighborhood Bible club with my girlfriend. The teacher pressured us into praying a prayer, but I really did not understand at that time what it meant to be saved or to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Over the next several years my family went to church, but I hated being there. I gave no thought to the preaching or singing. As I got older, I began to direct anger and hatred towards the preacher and towards God for any bad circumstances and miserable feelings that I experienced. I acknowledged the existence of God and Jesus Christ, His Son. “I had a head knowledge that He lived and died on the cross and rose again for the sins of the world, but it was not personal to me in any way.” I had a head knowledge that He lived and died on the cross and rose again for the sins of the world, but it was not personal to me in any way.
When I was 13 years old, my older sisters were baptized, and I insisted on being included to look just like them. By then I had heard more about being saved but I still had no interest in it for myself. Whenever I was in a difficult situation and felt miserable, I would pray to God and ask him to save me over and over again only to attempt to improve the situation and to soothe my conscience. I was frustrated and angry at God because saying that prayer never did anything for me.
The next year my oldest sister received Jesus Christ as her Savior. By this time, I was a very independent and rebellious teenager who was not interested in spiritual things. But after my sister was saved, there was such a dramatic change in her life! She and her husband seemed so happy every minute of the day and they seemed so concerned about others! They began to talk to me about salvation and I tried my best to brush them off. I was curious, but at the same time, angry with God. I still had no desire to know God in a personal way.
They kept praying for me, and the following year they invited me to stay with them for a few weeks. I immediately saw a big difference in almost everyone I met in the pastor’s home and at teen activities at church. I loved being around them because of the joy they had! It seemed as though they had something that was a real part of them. “They had an inner joy that I did not, and it made me curious.” They had an inner joy that I did not, and it made me curious.
At the same time I did not want to be near them because I was miserable in being made aware of my sinful heart and lost condition before a holy God. I was awful and rude to the pastor’s wife and my sister and her husband. I walked around all the time actually sensing an utter darkness and separation from God. God was showing me my sinful condition but I did not want to pray to Him again, and have it be nothing but empty words.
That summer the teens at the church went to a Bible Camp and I went along. The pastor’s wife was my counselor and she gave her salvation testimony on the first night. Then a few others gave their testimony as well. I remember thinking that I didn’t have any experience to compare to theirs and they actually had an ongoing relationship with the Lord, which I now wanted more than anything. I just didn’t know what I was missing. The pastor’s wife taught us a song for the week of camp. These are the words:
That I may know Him – wonderful Lord! To know the power of His great resurrection!
To join in fellowship with that of His suffering! And in that being made conformable to His death –
That I may know Him – wonderful Lord!
That was it! I wanted to know the Lord like that! I didn’t just want to know about Him and see Him in others, I wanted others to see Him in me and I wanted to personally know the Lord.
The second night the pastor spoke about Hell. That really showed me my sin and the fact that there was nothing that I could do to get rid of it. The pastor said that we must come to God in repentance and faith, believing that He is the Son of God who lived and died and rose again for our sins. He spoke of Revelation chapter 20, verses 14 and 15, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”
“I knew that my sin would rightfully put me in the lake of fire and also that my name was not in God’s book of life.” I knew that my sin would rightfully put me in the lake of fire and also that my name was not in God’s book of life. He read the verses in Isaiah chapter 64, verses 6 and 7, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities.” I related to that description, having sensed my sin as if it were a darkness that I could really feel and see. But he also shared the verse in Romans chapter 6, verse 23 that says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
At the end of the service I went to the front and told the pastor I wanted to be saved. At that moment I did not care what those in the room thought of me. I was taken to a back room with the pastor’s wife and she showed me many verses of scripture about salvation. Ephesians chapter 2, verses 8 and 9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” John chapter 3, verse 16 tells us, “For God so loved the world,…(including me, Karen)…that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
She explained to me and I agreed that she would not say a prayer for me to repeat, but that it had to come from my heart and be in my own words. I bowed my head and prayed to God telling Him that I knew I was a sinner deserving Hell. I asked for His forgiveness for all my sins and asked Him to come into my heart and save me. I told Him that I knew He was the only way to salvation and that I could in no way save myself.
“From that night on my life took a completely new direction.” From that night on my life took a completely new direction. At the end of the previous school year I had just about made up my mind to drop out of school the following year. After receiving Christ, the next school year I was on the honor roll. I was telling everyone what had happened to me and that Jesus Christ could be real to them as well. I longed to be around other Christians and to sing songs of praise to God.
It has been over 25 years since that wonderful night that the Lord Jesus Christ saved my soul. It is still wonderful to have the Lord in my heart and to know that God is still working and changing me to be more like Him.
Jesus Christ is alive and real today and you can know Him too and have an assurance that when you die you will go to Heaven and meet your Savior face to face! If you come to God in repentance and faith, you too can be saved. You will no longer just have heard that there was a man named Jesus Christ, you will know that Jesus Christ is alive today and living in your heart.