“I Thought I Could Forgo God’s Plan and Work My Way to Heaven”
I was raised in a fundamental, independent Baptist faith, taught the Bible from a young age, memorized Bible verses and was taught to pray. I knew all the facts of the Baptist heritage, knew some of the Word of God, told people that God created the world, and even became angry with those who questioned my religion. Until one day as I became older, I started to question why I believed these things. I say believed, but all I was doing was following traditions I was taught. They were in the Bible, but I only saw them as what my parents believed and what I was taught.
I had made professions of salvation before. I wanted to fit in and in some way please my parents. I loved them as much as an unsaved, rebellious child could. They loved me; they gave me things and overall took care of my wellbeing. It was a conditional love on my part.
I am not sure exactly what age I was, but in my early life, somewhere around 11 or 12, the Lord started to convict me of my sin. I seemed like a good girl to many because my parents disciplined me and did not allow me to act as my flesh would have desired. I was a liar, I was in constant rebellion, and I hated authority. My mother, to me, was my biggest enemy and, according to my thoughts, only wanted to see me fail. My mother and I were constantly butting heads, and I only cared because of the fear I had of my father’s anger and not because I knew I was wrong. The Lord was convicting me of my sin, and I did not like it. I made excuses for my sin and blamed my mother for everything.
“I told the Lord through my actions that I was a good, nice girl that did not need Him and I would make my own way to heaven.”
Thankfully and graciously, the Lord did not take ‘no’ for an answer. I had heard many sermons in my time, but it was the actual words from the Bible that pierced my soul and would cause me to literally shiver with fear in my bed late at night when everyone was asleep and it was dark and it was only God and me. He would bring scripture to my memory time and again. The one I hated was I Samuel 15:23, which my parents quoted to me when I was being explained why I was to be disciplined and what the severity of sin was I had committed: “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry…” I could not answer back to the Lord. What could I say to that? It was plain what I was doing.
I hated to think my sin comparable to witchcraft. In Scotland where I grew up, it is steeped in witchcraft, and I knew how it was. They worshipped Satan. I did not like to compare myself with a Satan- worshiping witch! I was not that bad! But I really knew that I was that bad.
I looked into other religions. I knew I was wrong at this point; I knew I needed salvation. I knew I was Satan’s own child, and I wanted to have control over my life, but I didn’t want God to have control, not yet. I wasn’t sure if what my parents believed was true. I know I wanted to have my own God, so I began to question everything—Catholicism, Hinduism, Mormanism, Lutheranism, any religion out there I looked into. Funny enough, I am not sure my parents knew I was interested in other religions.
“As I looked and studied and researched these religions, I was starting to realize one common theme among them that puzzled me exceedingly. Every one gave me the same answer—works get you to heaven.”
I was shocked. Another thing that I found was that all these religions claimed to be started by God, but their roots led back to dead men. All of it is, as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, vanity. I started to pray. I wanted unadulterated truth. I wanted to know what I believed, what I was going to claim as my faith, if I were questioned, if I was going to give my life to this , it would have to be the truth and no questioning was going to shut it down. So I studied the Bible. I even compared the prophecies with historical facts according to secular historians, and funny enough, they lined up. The science in the Word of God also lined up with the discoveries of secular people. Truthfully, I was shocked. After all these years, the Word of God was true on more platforms than just “religion.” What God had said was accurate; no other “religion” could stand up to this.
Now I knew all the facts, I knew out of all those holy books out there, the Word of God was the truth. I should’ve gotten saved right there, right? But I still wanted to hold on to my life. Holly knew best. Holly was her god. God was still convicting me; He was not letting me go. I did however profess salvation at this point.
My dad had started a Bible institute with the church plant he was working on at that time, and with his pastor friend, they taught on the Biblical doctrines. This pastor was teaching on the life of Christ, and we had been going for about a year at this point, when one night after the teaching and all had gone home, I knew I needed salvation. I was hearing again for the hundredth time, but never before really listening to the truth Christ spoke and the sacrifice he made just coming to this sinful, wicked world. I knew I was a selfish, stubborn, rebellious, same as a witch, sinner. I went into the room that Dad and Mom were in and told them I needed to be saved. Dad looked at me and said, “Holly, you know what you need to do.” And I said, “Yes, sir.” As we knelt by the bed, I confessed my sins and told my Heavenly Father how I was sorry for my stubborn pride, rebellious nature that hated Him, and for my idea that I could forgo His plan and work my way to heaven.
I got up and went upstairs and got ready for bed. That night, Satan was fighting me the whole way. He came and whispered in my ear that what I had done wasn’t real; I couldn’t get saved; I was beyond that; I was too old; my time had passed; God no longer wanted me. I prayed to God and asked Him to help me. He did and said, “Holly, you’re born again.” I fell asleep.
“I was 21 at the time, and through the years, it has been a big change in my life.”
I trust God for literally everything. I no longer try to figure life out on my own. I prayed if God willed to give me a God-fearing, God-loving husband, and if not, that I would be content with His plan as a single woman, built to serve Him however He deemed fit.
Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are some of my favorite books in the Bible. Whenever I am at a crossroads and don’t know where God is leading me, He brings to mind these verses: Proverbs 3:5-6. I have learned to give God full control. I have found peace with my mother. I actually went to my mother and apologized to her for the years of heartache she went through with me.
God used these verses in Proverbs with me along with many of the other verses He has used: “My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; when thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; and when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life” (Proverbs 6:20-23).
I have come to see that authority is of God, according to Hebrews 13:7,17. I now rejoice in the gift God has given me in my parents and thank Him for allowing me to see their example and to be raised by them. He is a good God and has led my life to this point, and I cannot thank Him enough for His patience and longsuffering in my life.