I Didn’t Have What I Thought I Had
Growing up as an only child of middle class parents, I thought my life was pretty easy. They always provided for my needs, so I never felt as if I ever had to struggle for anything in my life. In turn, I was a pretty good kid. I always made the honor roll and never really gave my parents much grief. Well, maybe a little!
When I was 15 years old, I made a profession of salvation. The Baptist church I was attending with my mom had just changed pastors. I would attend Sunday School and help my Mom with her class, mainly because I did not want to sit through a Sunday School lesson. One Sunday, the Pastor’s wife took me aside to “talk.” She shared her salvation testimony with me and showed me some verses in the Bible. She then asked me if I wanted to be saved. I said, “Yes,” and bowed my head and prayed. I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and to come into my heart.
“Soon, though, a struggle started in my heart. Several years passed, and I saw no fruit in my life.”
I had no true desire to serve God. I was just going through the motions. After high school, I attended Bible college. I enjoyed my new life and new friends. I soon became so busy with college life, I felt as if I was starting to grow as a Christian. I decided I was just back-slidden before, and had needed some Christian friends my own age to enjoy a real Christian life. I did not have any friends back home who were saved. In reality, I was not growing at all. I was living a dual life—one at college and one at home. At college, I acted like a Christian is supposed to act. At home, however, I still listened to rock music and enjoyed going out with my unsaved friends.
During my senior year at college, I went forward during a Missions Conference to ‘rededicate my life to the Lord.’ It was an emotional year for me. My class load was as much as I could handle, and a long relationship I had with a boyfriend had just come to an end. I felt low and emotionally drained. I told the Lord that I wanted to ‘rededicate my life to whatever purpose He had for me.’ A few months later, I met a man who would eventually become my husband. I felt as if my life was finally headed on the path the Lord wanted me on. But I still had no inner desire to live for Him. I never read my Bible. I found myself confessing the same sins over and over again.
“I did, however, have some answers to my prayers, so I was not all that concerned with the degree of spirituality.”
This went on for several years. In 1991, I got married and we moved to Florida so my husband could finish his last year of Bible college. Soon after graduation, we moved to Pennsylvania and joined the Lehigh Valley Baptist Church. We both felt, spiritually, as if we were babies and needed to grow. We thought we could use this new challenge in our lives. Soon we were involved in many church ministries. I thought I was finally growing spiritually.
One Sunday evening, I stayed home from church due to a headache. When my husband came home, he said he had gotten saved. He realized his childhood profession had not been genuine. I now have to say, looking back, that this really did not excite me very much. At the time, I acted like I was happy, but I was not honest with myself and with others. I began to read my Bible a little more, because my husband was now doing that. At times, I enjoyed reading it. I always enjoyed going to church and singing hymns.
Our church started a new ministry, which was writing out your testimony and having it printed up in a tract. Of course, I signed up with my husband to do this, but I kept putting off writing my tract because I felt I was too busy to do it. When I did find time to sit down and write it, I struggled even more. My testimony seemed mediocre. Something was missing in my life. Oh, I could remember the day I thought I was saved like it was yesterday, but yet it did not seem as if it was a life-changing experience. I finally decided that I just did not know the right words to write down. So I would listen to different preachers and try to remember things they said that I felt I could use in my testimony to help it sound better. Before long, however, my conscience really started to bother me.
In September of 1996, we had revival services at our church. Each night I felt as if I had assurance of my salvation, and I even got some things right in my life. The following Sunday night, we had many people coming to get baptized. One testimony of a friend really hit home with me. She said many things that I could have said. I hung on her every word. I thought, “That’s me.”
“I went home that night feeling so empty and so confused. I knew God and Satan were doing battle for my soul.”
The devil was bringing things to my memory to make me think I was OK—the day I prayed; the day I rededicated my life; the many blessings in my life; the answers to my prayers; the changes I had made in my life (reading my Bible, giving up rock music, etc.) God, on the other hand, was showing me my sinful heart. I tried reading my Bible, but I really wasn’t getting anything out of it. I was just going through the motions. No matter how hard I tried, I could not get rid of the heaviness on my heart.
The next morning, I was still feeling very confused, but I went to work as usual. I worked for a chiropractor who was a Christian and a member of our church. After I got to work, I called my husband to meet me for lunch. I wanted to talk some more to settle my confusion. Fortunately, the doctor’s office that morning was not very busy. In between patients, my boss and I talked all morning. He could see I was struggling. Little did I know that he already knew that I was not saved. But I needed to see myself as lost before I could be saved.
As I began to read my Bible and pray, I asked God to show me whether I was saved or lost. He began to open my eyes to my true condition. I realized that my first “profession” had not been real, because it had not changed my life. There was no real fruit in my life to prove that I was a Christian, even when I desired to ‘get things right with God.’ In my heart, there was no peace and assurance that I belonged to God. If I had truly been saved when I was 15, there would not have been a need to come back to God for salvation again. I realized I had changed some things on the outside of my life, but my heart had never been changed. I had spent many years doing things that I thought were pleasing in God’s eyes. Now I realized that, in myself, I could do nothing to please God.
I had come to the end of myself, and I needed God’s help. I saw myself as God saw me—a lost sinner, deserving of Hell! Romans 3:23 tells us, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” I also knew that just choosing God did not make me a Christian.
“I had to totally yield my heart and will to Him.”
I now knew I was lost, but I did not think I was ready to be saved yet. My boss asked me what I was afraid of. I said, “Nothing, but is it wrong to want my husband here?” He told me that God is more important than anyone else. I knew he was right. I needed to settle this now. The Lord tells us in Second Corinthians 6:2, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” Not one of us has any guarantee of the future, whether it is tomorrow or the next hour. Proverbs 27:1 says, “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” James 4:14 says, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” If I waited until lunch to meet my husband at home, and I was in a fatal car accident on the way, where would I spend eternity? I knew I was not saved, and therefore, I would go to hell. I knew I did not want to spend eternity in hell without God.
I went to a room in the back all by myself, to get alone with God. That morning, I cried out to the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him to forgive me of living a lie all those years. I repented of my sins and asked Him to forgive me of all my sins and come into my heart. Suddenly, my heaviness of heart was gone. The burden was lifted away! I immediately felt the peace of God that passes all understanding. This was something I had never had in my life before.
I am still a sinner, but now I am a sinner saved by grace. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” Sin does not dwell in my life as it did before. That’s the difference. It is a heart and attitude change. God has changed my life. Won’t you let Christ change your life also?