After elementary school I could only find acceptance among other messed up kids like me. I started getting in big trouble in school and big trouble with the law. My problems almost destroyed me and those that I loved. I saw how bad I hurt my parents. They didn’t even scream and yell at me anymore and they were just so hurt that they felt like there was nothing left they could do. In 1998, during my junior year of high school, I got to a real low point in my life. I was in trouble with the law, but the sorrow I felt was not that I had wronged God, but that I had gotten caught. I knew that my life was spinning so out of control that I needed to do something. So I cried out to God to change me. And then I started changing things I did not like about myself, starting with the moral issues, and then the things I didn’t like about my attitude.
About 6 years later, I asked God to lead me to a good church. During my first service at Open Door, I loved it there immediately and soon after started to attend every service. I was finally finding the acceptance and love that I wanted so desperately. I was told that in salvation there is a time and a place for when you are saved. I assumed I must’ve been saved that time when I asked God to change me. In writing my very convincing testimony, I added salvation to it in order to fit in with everybody else. “Everybody had no trouble believing I was a Christian.” Everybody had no trouble believing I was a Christian.
But as I started to get a better understanding of the gospel and what true salvation is, I began to have doubts about my salvation. Later I met Corey and started dating him. One day, I told him about my doubts about being saved. He felt I just needed some help with assurance, because I had not attended any church for the first six years after I thought I was saved. We did a Bible study on assurance and for a little while I’d be OK but the doubts would always return. The doubting never stopped. Many times I asked God to “save me if I’m not saved already,” but that gave me no assurance. I wondered why I didn’t have much of a desire to read God’s Word, and why there were still areas in my life that I desperately wanted to change but felt like I had no power to do so. I figured I just needed to pray more, read my Bible more and listen to more preaching.
About a year after Corey and I met, we got married and settled down. We moved from everything I knew. I left my friends, my family, and my church. Being alone all day at home, in a silent house drove me crazy. Corey was working a lot of hours and I hated being alone. I often recognized that I had everything I ever wanted, and knew I should be happy and thankful, yet I wondered why I still felt so empty inside. I also noticed after we got married that my love was different from Corey’s. He had a patient, unconditional love, no matter how impatient and selfish I got. He never once yelled at me, raised his voice, or even got angry at me! He only showed me tenderness through his meek and gentle spirit. I never ever was loved like this before. I began feeding off of Corey’s spirituality. I put Corey before God and was constantly needy of him.
One day, I shared the concerns about my salvation with my friend, Suzanne Cefola. She said, “Maybe God is putting those doubts in your mind because you are not saved.” I was not ready to consider that yet, but she challenged me to think about that point where I said I got saved, and match it up with what God says in the Bible about salvation. I tried to talk myself into assurance—after all, look how I was living my life; look at all the fruit in my life. I’ve had prayers answered, cared about people’s souls, I get excited about the things of God; I care about other Christians and have even led some people to the Lord. And from the point I “thought” I was saved, I had changed SO much! Being a professional thief and liar, I had come a long way to a very reformed person. I had even “rededicated my life for Christ” several times. Surely I must be saved.
But the next week when we met, she again asked me questions about my testimony. I felt nervous having to explain it to her, and when I got home, I was really overwhelmed with doubts. That night I told my husband, “I think I’m lost.” He told me that he still loved me, but that I needed to get it settled. I told him I wasn’t ready yet, because this time I wanted to be sure. I really needed the FAITH that God would save me if I asked Him to.
I talked with Pastor Hammett and asked what he recommended. After listening to a sermon entitled, “Repentance and Faith,” I met with Mrs. Hammett. I explained to her that when I thought back to when I thought I was saved, I couldn’t remember much but that I was begging God to change me. According to the sermon on Repentance and Faith, crying out to God to change you is not salvation. Was it my conscience that wanted to change me? “To be true salvation, there had to be repentance and faith together. “ To be true salvation, there had to be repentance and faith together. I could not say in confidence that I had that. All I remember was that I wanted to change. I could not in fact even pin point the day or time that happened. Everything else was a guess. I told her how I was counting on the things that I had done for God for the assurance of my salvation. She then shared with me her testimony, about being a pastor’s wife and realizing she herself was lost after 30 years in the ministry, thinking she was saved based on being good and how much she was serving the Lord.
She said, “I can’t tell you if you are lost or saved. Only God can show you that. But don’t just pray a prayer to get it settled. Just praying a prayer doesn’t save a person. You must realize that you are lost before you can get saved.” I wanted to settle the matter so badly. But still I was unsure. She told me to read the book of John and to ask God to reveal His love to me. That night, Corey did the 4 week salvation Bible study with me in one session. During that study, God used the illustration of the filthy rag spoke about in Isaiah 64:6 to show me how pitiful I was and that I needed God, not that God needed me. Corey urged me to read my Bible every day. I did this, waiting, and praying for God to give me faith to believe He could and would save me. I kept asking God to show me how He sees me.
Two agonizing weeks went by with the understanding that I indeed was a lost person and on my way to an eternity in hell. Fear of making another false profession kept me from trusting Christ. Every day I prayed for God to not send me to hell. I was afraid that if I got into my car and had a wreck, I might be hearing the words, “Depart from me ye cursed, I never knew you.” But God promises to show truth to those who are searching for Him with all their heart.
Wednesday, December 6th, I went to the chiropractor. I was so burdened about not settling this issue already. Dr. Zarrillo asked me how I was doing. I said, “How would you feel knowing you are condemned and separated from God?” He told me to see Christ as a daddy, and that salvation was an easy thing to do. I left my appointment on the brink of tears. I could not deal any longer with this heavy heart. At home, every little thing bothered and burdened me. I felt like I could not deal with the simplest things. I was frustrated, and angry about every little thing. Things were just NOT going my way here, and my life was so out of control!
After we got home from church that evening, I waited till Corey fell asleep and thought to myself, “I don’t want to wait any longer. I know what I need to do.” It was at 11:30 PM that I got on the floor on my knees right next to our bed and humbled myself. I told the Lord God over and over that I was not worthy to know Him. I told Him that I was sick of my sin, and that I didn’t want it anymore, and asked Him to forgive me of that. Oddly, I felt a strange peace within me right then and there, but I continued praying. I asked God to save me, and said several times that I could not save myself. I thanked Him for dying on the cross for me, because I put Him there. I had felt in my heart that I did not have a lot of faith, but I cried out to Him with what little I had. I then told Him, “I know God cannot lie, so if you lied to me, then you will have to send me to hell.”
“There were no whistles or bells, but there was and is a peace.” There were no whistles or bells, but there was and is a peace. It was so simple to do! It was good to know that I no longer had to carry my many burdens on my own, but I could really give them to God now. I woke Corey up to tell him and he was so excited that he called everybody he knew to tell them!
The next day, I noticed right away that the depression, loneliness and that hopeless empty feeling I would often get were gone. Where I was before empty, I was now filled! Every day I can see more things God is changing in my life. At times I am heart broken to realize that I willfully sin against God. At these times, I am reminded why Jesus willfully put Himself on the cross. I realize also, that if I get my eyes on Christ and what He has done for me, gratefulness surpasses the guilt and makes me want to push forward and do right.
I pray that you will examine your own testimony. The Bible says that it is good to examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith. (2 Cor13:5) It is not worth winging it and hoping you are saved—because if you are not, you are sending your eternal soul to a lake of fire. I was deceived and fooled by Satan; don’t waste your life missing out on what real salvation is all about.