I was sixteen years old at the time. Just a typical teen girl who went to church—trying to be good but also trying to fit in with the fun kids and be cool. I knew God had a perfect plan for my life if I would submit to Him, yet I still chose to do it my way and hope things turned out OK in the end. It was tough sometimes balancing these two—but mostly I thought that I had it all under control.
But let me go back to the beginning. I grew up in a Christian home and went to church every Sunday. As an elementary student, I was concerned about eternity and the thought of hell scared me. I prayed hasty prayers, asking the Lord to save me. (Note:salvation, saved and born again are Biblical terms referring to the forgiveness of sins by God and the rescue of a person from the power and penalty of that sin. This is God’s requirement for everlasting life.) These prayers were nothing more than scared words that really held no meaning in my heart. Later as a new teen to the youth group, I was again convicted by the Holy Spirit during a summer camp. To get rid of the conviction in my heart, I again prayed a prayer. “This time I was only looking for attention and approval from others, and not from God.” This time I was only looking for attention and approval from others, and not from God.
Several years later, I went on a week long mission’s trip with our youth group. During that trip, I was confronted with my own sinful heart, and I became alarmed at what I saw. The wicked thoughts had turned into actions and it took me by surprise. How could such a “good girl” have such sinful thoughts and actions? I was determined to straighten out my life, and figuring I could handle it on my own, I set out to do just that. However, sin (and especially my thoughts) had a definite grip in my life and I found it literally impossible to live the way God laid out in His Word. “For without faith it is impossible to please Him,”says Hebrews chapter 11 verse 6.
One month later during special services at Lehigh Valley Baptist Church in Emmaus, PA, the speaker, Pastor Parchman, started the week with a message on the subject of knowing for sure that you are saved. As I started to listen to the sermon, I wasn’t too concerned because I thought I had already taken care of that a few years ago at summer camp. But the more he preached, the more I realized that my life was not matching up with God’s way. “God demands complete obedience, but I was inwardly rebelling.” God demands complete obedience, but I was inwardly rebelling. His way was peace and I always seemed to be at war with myself and others. He wanted me to know for sure that I would spend my eternity in Heaven, but I was still trying my own way, convincing myself that I was saved, but never really knowing for sure.
At the end of that service, I was ashamed and confused about my “Christian life” up to that point. What had happened at that summer camp years ago? I began analyzing that previous experience and soon realized that I had conjured up a lot of emotions and attitudes to convince myself that I was saved. This was not God’s way to salvation, but again was me trying to get there my own way. God’s way to salvation is found in repentance (admitting my sins and turning from them) and faith (believing that Jesus Christ alone can save me—not anything that I do).
I needed help sorting things out, and a lady at my church sat down with me as I cried and shared my thoughts with her. We read some Bible verses together and I read out loud this verse in Romans chapter 8 verse 2, “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.” What a powerful message—there is true freedom to be found in Christ and following His way! As we talked, it became clear to me that there was nothing more I had to do to “be lost.” I was already as lost as ever. But there was one thing, rather one Person, I had to know in order to be saved.
Once I realized that I was lost and that Christ can and will save those who come His way, I did just that! I asked the Lord to forgive me of my sin and to save me. I trusted the Lord and He saved me from everything that He hates: all the sin and thoughts not pleasing to Him. “Though it wasn’t an emotional prayer, or an emotion-driven experience, I began to cry tears of joy.” Though it wasn’t an emotional prayer, or an emotion-driven experience, I began to cry tears of joy.
Soon I began to notice some changes in my life. I first noticed a difference in my heart attitude towards people. I started talking with my friends about my salvation and I wanted them to know Christ as well. Soon, I began earnestly praying for my friends by name and Christ gave me a desire to witness and speak for Him.
Over the years since my salvation, I have seen a special peace in everyday circumstances (something I never experienced before meeting Christ). And there are continual victories over sin. In fact, the same sins that had captivated me when I was trying my own way were now erased by God’s grace! He’s still working on me, and I am glad to know that it is His perfect way—not mine!