On September 28, 1994, something wonderful happened in my life. I was 13 years old when I invited the Lord into my heart to stay. He has changed my life completely and I know it will never be the same. I would like to share with you what He has done for me and what He can do for you.
I grew up in Baptist churches. Every Sunday my parents would have to nearly drag me to church. I hated it. The church services were very boring and I didn’t understand them. I used to wish I was sick so I could stay home. Sunday school was not any better. I knew most of the Bible stories by heart and they became very dull.
Many of the churches we attended believed in just having a person say a prayer to save them. (Note: “Saved” is a biblical term referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of the person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.) My parents did not know any better, and when I was five years old, they asked me to say a prayer. Those words did not save me, even though, at the time, I thought they did. The plan of salvation was not clear to me. Neither was repentance. “All through the next several years, though, I thought that that prayer had been my salvation.” All through the next several years, though, I thought that that prayer had been my salvation.
At the beginning of July, 1994, my family switched churches. Some friends had told my dad about the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. We decided to try it. The first Sunday there, I knew there was something different about the people. Everyone was so friendly and kind. They all seemed to be happy. The pastor, and many others, spoke of their personal salvation experiences. They were nothing like mine.
Nobody “hoped” they were going to Heaven, or “thought” they should go to Heaven. They all “knew” they were going to Heaven. I definitely did not feel that assurance. I remember a time when my whole family was home and I was sitting in my room. The house became silent. I got really scared thinking the rapture had come and I was left behind. I was not positive that I would have gone with them. (Note: The Bible tells us that when the Lord is preparing to return to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, he will take all “saved” Christians off the earth to join him in Heaven “in the blink of an eye.” This is referred to as the time of “the rapture.”)
That summer, I was full of doubt about my salvation. One Sunday, a visiting pastor, Joe Pellicone, preached a message entitled, “Are You Ready?” One of the passages of scripture he used for his sermon was First Thessalonians, chapter 4, verses 14 and 17, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him… Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so we shall ever be with the Lord.” Those verses really got me thinking. At the end of the service, the pastor asked everyone in the church if they knew for sure where they would spend eternity. I did not know! “I had done absolutely zero for God, so why should He want to let me into Heaven?” I had done absolutely zero for God, so why should He want to let me into Heaven? I felt so guilty about my sin that I started to cry. I knew I needed to do something.
That night, I asked my mom if she would do a Bible study with me. She agreed, and we started the next day.
There were four lessons that took an hour each. We had our first lesson on Monday. I began to feel God working in my heart. I am not sure when we had our second lesson, but I remember feeling the need to finish the study in case something happened to me! On Saturday, we had our third lesson. By the time I had finished the lesson, I was sitting in my chair in tears. I needed to get to the last lesson right away. I was positive I was not saved, and I knew the consequence would be Hell if something happened to me and I died. That consequence was clear to me after I read Ecclesiasties, chapter 7, verse 20, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not.” I also knew that God was willing to cleanse me from my sins and give me a brand new start. All I needed to do was call on Him, as it says in Romans, chapter 10, verse 13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.“
God was not only willing to save me, but I knew it was a requirement for me to go to Heaven. Repentance is also a requirement. Luke, chapter 13, verse 3, says, “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” “The problem with the prayer I said at the age of five was that I did not see my sin as God did.” The problem with the prayer I said at the age of five was that I did not see my sin as God did.
When my mom and I finished the last Bible study, I ran into my room. I fell to my knees asking God to forgive me for my sins and to save me from Hell. At a little after noon that day, the Lord gave me a new life in Him. In Second Corinthians, chapter 5, verse 17, the Bible says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things become new.” I realized that I now had a new life with which to serve God.
The next morning, I had a strong desire to get up early and go to church! When I got there, I told everyone I saw about my new life. I told my youth pastor, my Sunday school teacher, and my friends. I think some of my friends were a little surprised, because I had done a good job of faking Christianity. While I had prayed, read the Bible and even come to church, none of these things had anything to do with my salvation.
When I had said the prayer and professed to be a Christian when I was five years old, my life showed no evidence of change from the way I had acted earlier. I did what was most convenient for me. God was on the back burner. Since that day in September, 1994, I have focused my desires and goals on God and what He wants for my life. I now know, without any doubt, that I am Heaven-bound.
You may be reading this and saying to yourself, “That’s okay for her, but God doesn’t care about me because of all the wrong I’ve done.” But, God loves you. Here is what the Bible says in John, chapter 3, verse 16, “For God so loved the world, He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.“
He loves you so much that He sent his only Son from Heaven to earth to die for you. No matter how much wrong you have done, God is willing to forgive you and give you a fresh start also. He gave me a new start when I did not deserve it. Please, give God a chance in your life. You will never regret it. He loves you.