01 March 2010

My Salvation Experience

I have never posted this, but after writing it for a Facebook group I belong to (Suffering 4 Christ, started by Michael Carter), I decided I wanted to share it with all my friends.


It's long, but it's my story of how I came from nature to grace. I love how each person's salvation experience is similar but how each one is tailor made specifically for them.

I realize I'm nothing special, but Jesus is and I'm sharing this to glorify Him, not myself. I hope that someone out there reading this will get something from it.

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Since Michael first asked for salvation experiences I've been debating back and forth internally on whether or not I was going to share mine. My salvation and the story of God's grace and providence in my life is sweet to me, but so many times I feel like nobody else is interested in hearing it.

That's a shame. And I know that it's only Satan hindering me.

I am very fortunate to have parents who taught me to go to church and to make it my top priority. I was never allowed to miss church for any reason unless I was throwing up or had a significant fever. Old Union Missionary Baptist Church was probably one of the first places I was ever taken as an infant and I've been there for most services ever since. I'm very thankful that my parents formed in me the habit of church-going so that I could later learn what a blessed privilege and necessary part of like it is.

I was aware from a very young age that someday I would be held accountable for my sins and separated from God. And I worried about it quite a bit, afraid that I might not recognize it when it came. When I asked all the usual questions about “but how will I know?” my parents gave me the sage advice that I've heard in so many people's testimonies: “You'll just know.”

I was in 6th grade at Old Union School when one of the other 2 girls in my age group told us that she really wanted to tell us something but that it was personal and she didn't know if she should. We assumed she had a crush on someone, so we bugged her about it nonstop the rest of the week. The following Saturday, the school was preparing food for a local auction as a fundraiser and the other 2 girls and I were playing together in a barn loft there on the property. We were, as usual for the past few days, trying to convince our friend to tell us what was going on. Finally, she caved: “I think I'm lost.”

Well, that certainly wasn't nearly as fun as having a crush on somebody and it hit me head-on at 100 mph. She's younger than me and she's lost, I remember thinking.

I went for a couple of months without telling anyone or doing anything except maybe praying on my own. I don't really remember now. It wasn't until Old Union's fall revival that year that I publicly acknowledged my condition. The same girl who told us she was lost in that barn loft went to the altar for the first time that night. And so did I.

It was the first of many times and I wandered around in that dangerous condition for right around 2 years.

Fast forward...

One night a few months before I turned 14, it was late and I was mad and dramatic, storming around my room, angry with my parents over something that I haven't been able to remember since then. That shows how important it was. I remember I was walking from my bathroom back into the my bedroom and had just reached the corner of my bed when I got the most horrible feeling of dread. I knew I had to pray. I stretched out of across my bed and buried my face in a pillow and cried out to God.

This part is something that I've thought about a whole lot. What did I say? What did I do? What was different that night than all the other times I'd tried to pray? What is the magic formula?

The answer is there's not one. Only God knows the sequence of “events” that takes place in the heart of a sinner when he's saved. We hear about faith and repentance and how those things have to be there for a person to be saved, but it can't really be broken down much farther than that.

I cried a lot of tears during the time that I was lost, but the only thing that I've been able to come up with that was different the night I got saved was that for the first time in all those months, I cried in my heart. I don't remember very many actual words coming from my mouth during the 4 or 5 minutes that I prayed that night, but I do remember it felt different than it ever had before.

Faith and repentance. The ability to truly pray. The phenomenon that a sinful human being can actually pour out their heart in such a way that their pleas reach the throne of God. That a mere mortal's cries are heard by the Son of God Himself and He sees fit to plead our case to His Father.

These are precious gifts from God. And without His assistance in our prayers none of these things would ever occur. No matter how earnest and diligent a person is, he can never manufacture these things on his own. I could have never reached God had He not first drawn me to Him.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.

One second I was crying, hurting like I'd never hurt before, and the next second the hurt was gone and I was no longer crying. There were no more tears to be shed. There were no fireworks, the lights weren't brighter, I didn't feel like I was floating up off my bed... there was just stillness. Peace with God.

Well, that's weird, I thought as I got up and started back toward my bathroom. About the time I reached my bathroom door, I stopped in my tracks. Was that it? I asked myself. But no, Satan was right there waiting for that moment of realization, and so for the first of many times I let him steal away my joy... before I had even really had a chance to feel any joy at all. I knew I didn't feel the same as I did before that night, but I still doubted and questioned.

About 2 weeks later, Old Union started its summer revival. Brother H.C. Vanderpool was the pastor and Brother Paul Bryson was assisting. I went to the altar every night, but was noticeably distracted to the point that more than one person asked me what was up. One night near the end of the revival, I had been to the altar and had already gotten up and was sitting in the back of the church when Brother Bryson came back and asked to talk to me.

He too had noticed my distraction and asked me if I had any reason to think I might have been saved. I told him about what happened a couple weeks earlier. He related his salvation experience to me and talked to me a few minutes about what I was feeling and then told me that if I wanted to go pray again that he and everyone else would pray with me.

I stood in the back of the church for a few more minutes leaning against the door frame and thinking it all over and finally decided that maybe I should go pray again. It was late and the few who were left at church gathered around me and the other boy who was on the altar and we had a fairly short prayer. Somewhere during that prayer, the Lord allowed me to feel that peace again. It still wasn't overwhelming and I honestly can't say that I felt 100% sure even then, but I just felt like I needed to say that I'd been saved.

When the prayer ended, I looked up at my mom and just nodded my head. That was the first time I felt joyful for my salvation. Everyone else was rejoicing and I could finally join them. All of the feelings that I'd heard people describing all my life came rushing in and I knew then that I was saved. We left church that night and went directly to Brother Jerry Reynolds and Ann's house so I could tell them. The next night my cousin was saved and the next night she and I and another girl joined the church. We were baptized that Sunday.

I have a doubter's heart and I've struggled with that several times since then, but God has never failed to take me back and show me the surety of what He's done for me.

I'll never know why, but looking back over my life I can see God's hand in so many situations. I've made a lot of mistakes and stupid decisions, but God has always waited for me and welcomed me back into fellowship with Him when I got willing to get over myself and focus on Him.

I don't know how I could face this life without God. It's the only way to die and I wouldn't want to live any other way.

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Away to Pemberley

1 comments:

Deidra March 4, 2010 at 4:32 PM  

Thanks for posting this. It's a brave thing, indeed, to share your salvation story with the world. I'm sure you had no idea this sweet story would be my introduction to you!

Well, truthfully my introduction was your words today at (in)courage, which led me here to you. Thanks so much for your beautiful self...and for sharing it with us.