The Truth Resonated with My Soul!
I’ve grown up in a Baptist home my whole life as my parents are missionaries to South Africa. From the time I was old enough to understand the weightiness of the matter, I knew that I was not right with God. In about every church service I sat through as a girl, the clear Gospel of Christ was preached. For nearly all my life, I had the verse in Romans 3:23 committed to memory - For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. I knew that God saw me as a rebel who was separated from His holiness by my sin. The truth of my eternal plight loomed over my head for many years, yet I would often push it away with the trivial things of my life or try to reason that God wouldn’t throw me in Hell because, even if I wasn’t that great, my parents were good people.
I said many prayers, asking God to save me, but these were not sincere or originating from a heart of true surrender to the Lord. I still wanted to be in control of my life, and I had no real godly sorrow over what the sin in my life had done to Jesus Christ in putting Him on the Cross (2 Corinthians 7:9-10). Often I would utter these prayers after I had heard a message that particularly targeted the areas I was leaning on for salvation (i.e., my parents’ salvation and my arrogant, prideful view of my own goodness) and how they were inadequate to save my soul. Verses such as Eph 2:8 - For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: did not often affect my pride-hardened soul as I would deflect it onto those lost around me. Growing up in a ministry home, I often tended to view the Gospel as something for those heathen sinners around me whom my dad needed to give a tract to; I never once looked in the mirror for the dirtiest one. Somehow I conveniently overlooked my own soul when verses like ‘For God so loved the world. . .’, ‘. . . all have sinned.’ and ‘there is none righteous no, not one’ were preached or read. To be honest, I didn’t want to. I had the truth given to me, and deep down I knew I wasn’t right with God and never could be on my own, yet I strived with every part of my being to cover that truth and ignore it. I tried to tell myself that it was all good. I didn’t need God. I could save myself. Right?
"I tried to tell myself that it was all good. I didn’t need God. I could save myself. Right?"
We studied specific scriptures that spoke of Christ’s sacrifice and how He is the only way a man can come to salvation. I knew I needed Jesus because I had nothing to bring. Eph 2:9 states that salvation is, Not of works, lest any man should boast. I couldn’t make myself righteous. I had no ability within my sin-filled soul to be good and holy like God. I understood that because of this condition, there was no way a holy God could accept me into Heaven as I was.
I began to grasp the fact that it is Not by works of righteousness which we have done but according to His mercy He saved us (Titus 3:5) I chose to agree with God that my sin was hideous. My sin was the cause of Christ’s death. My sin (which I had chosen willfully and purposefully) was the reason for my eternal separation from God. I finally began to take the truths I had heard all my life and apply them to myself instead of everyone else. Romans 6:23 became personal: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. I was beginning to understand Isaiah 64:6 - 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. I knew that I needed God.
However, a struggle still continued when I would pray with the intention of confessing my sin to God. The Devil would consistently place doubt in my mind about the sincerity and genuineness of my prayer. I was weary of just praying a prayer (as I had so many times before) but not really having all the elements necessary for salvation. Often, as I would lie in bed at night all that I could think about was dying and going to Hell for eternity because I hadn’t dealt with my salvation. There was an ever-present sense of urgency to deal with the matter, but I was lacking something. When I would pray, I was not focused on my heart’s greatest need. I wasn’t thinking about how I had put Christ on the cross. All I could see were Hell fires, and I was terrified. As I would pray, I would be trying to fit in the words that I knew you were just supposed to say, but none of them were really from my heart. I was just saying things to make my prayer sound right.
This became somewhat of a nightly routine as I would lay in the quiet of my room left to my thoughts, willing sleep to come. I eventually got to a point where I was scared to ask for salvation lest my prayer be insufficient. I continued in a suffocating fog of fear as I was terrified to not let another hour pass without being right with God, yet at the same time being afraid to pray lest it be ingenuine. As I struggled with this, I was still, almost unknowingly, trying to work out my own salvation in my own power. I was still trying to be good enough for God. I understood I couldn’t save myself, but in trying to pray for salvation, I was overlooking the weighty things God wanted me to recognize and confess.
"I understood I couldn’t save myself, but in trying to pray for salvation, I was overlooking the weighty things God wanted me to recognize and confess."
In the pew, before the service was even drawn to a close, I asked God to come into my life. I let go of the prideful mindset of believing I could bring salvation to my soul. I turned my focus off of the choice of words. I don’t remember much of what I said but I do remember saying, ‘God, I give up.’ I knew that I was fully dependent on the Lord, and I knew there was no prayer or combination of words good enough to save me. I was not emotional as I prayed, and as soon as I had uttered the prayer, I had doubt come into my mind like the other times. But even as it was entering my mind, I had a peace flood over me. This peace and the fact that this time I knew I was giving myself fully to the Lord in surrender set this time out in my mind as the time that the Lord saved my soul from eternal separation from Him.
Since this time, I have seen the Lord work in my life through His Holy Spirit. He has helped me overcome the sin that was rampant in my life and that I had been trying to clean out before salvation. The ways of life that were normal, acceptable, and excusable to me before have changed as God has convicted me with the need to live a life of holiness. (1 Peter 1:16 “Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.”)