When I was nine, my family started going to church with my grandparents. I would sit in this little church and listen to a kind and gentle preacher share the stories of the Bible. I have to admit that half way through those sermons I was thinking about this delicious chinese restaurant that we would go to after church each week. So one Sunday, the preacher invited people who knew they needed Jesus to walk the aisle and come to the front. So I did. I was ten then and had no idea what I was doing. I just knew in my innocence that I needed what that preacher was offering. I was later baptized with my Dad on Father's Day. A priceless memory.
9th Grade, 1990
My parents weren't going to church anymore, but a precious friend invited me to church. I began going with her and it was at that point that I started learning the Bible. With that, I began understanding sin, Jesus' death on the cross, heaven, hell... And I faced the question of eternal destiny which scared me. Why? Because I wasn't sure why I had walked the aisle so many years back. Was I saved from my sins that day? Because I'd never asked for forgiveness. I didn't even understand that Jesus had died for me. Shortly after that I walked the aisle at a youth retreat, "rededicated" my life to God, and followed through with baptism. Now I was 100% sure of my relationship with God and my eternal destiny, right? Nope. I still doubted.
Let me fill you in on a little detail about myself. I was a GOOD person. Never rebelled against my parents. Always followed the rules. Dated good guys. Did good in school. Got into a good college with a good major. Made good friend choices. (I know some of you who knew me back then are probably laughing right now. Go ahead. Laugh.) Nevertheless, I didn't really see what it was about me that needed saving.
So I wrestled and doubted. Doubted and wrestled. For years.
Then I met Bryan. He was handsome, funny and very sure of his relationship with Jesus. I wanted that assurance. I was immediately drawn to him. We became best friends and shortly after began dating. I painted a very spiritual picture of myself so that he would really like me (shallow, I know). But in my heart, I wondered 'If I died, would I really go to heaven? Because I have been a good person...'
So one night at a Sunday evening church service, Bryan next to my side, I was doubting my salvation, as usual. I found myself sharing my heart's doubts and burdens with a friend. She asked me, "What would it hurt to pray and ask Jesus to forgive you and tell Him that you want to give Him your life?" I told her, "Oh, I've prayed and prayed that prayer. I'm a good person. I've done some really good things like leading Bible studies, prayer meetings, youth retreats. I know a lot about the Bible. Surely I'm saved, right?" Her reply put me on the path to assurance in Christ. "Why don't you just pray and ask God to forgive you. If you've already been saved from your sins, you have nothing to loose. But if you aren't saved, then you gain everything - a relationship with Jesus, forgiveness, heaven, assurance!"
So, I prayed that night a desperate plea for God to rescue me from my sins. God is so amazing because I remember thinking while I prayed 'I'm not really sure what the sins are, but I know they're there." (Romans 3:23) And what I saw in my mind's eye has never left me. I saw my sin spill out (picture black marbles rolling across a white floor). And then I saw the blood of Jesus poured out and covering that sin - every single last sin, covered by His blood. At that moment, the miracle of the cross took place in my heart. I opened my eyes to freedom! I had been forgiven! I belonged to Jesus! And I would spend eternity with Him! The doubt was gone. The wrestling, gone. And now I had peace, hope, assurance, comfort and this incredible knowing that I belonged to God, the Creator of the universe. I was His child.
Looking back, God's hand is so evident in my life; although I couldn't see it at the time. I will never know if I was actually saved when I was 10. But I know now! And that's all that matters!