To let you all know where I am coming from, I wanted to share my spiritual journey.
I always thought my testimony was so boring. I never had a miraculous change or an obviously God-thing just happen so that all my family & friends could hear the “Hallelujah” chorus being sung over my head. It's just a quiet, growing relationship with the God of the Universe who has taken up residence in my soul, a journey of a Father carrying His daughter.
I grew up in church all my life. One of my first memories is of my first Sunday School teacher, Miss Mackey, asking us questions about the Bible story. I heard all about Jesus and His love for me ever since before I can remember. I don’t have a very good memory, but I do remember a scene when I was about 4 years old.
My pastor always began invitation the same way every service: “Bow your head and close your eyes. All those who know 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you are saved, raise your hands." I peeked every Sunday and saw that everybody always raised their hands. "Now," he would continue, "anybody who couldn’t do that, who doesn’t know for sure that you are saved, raise your hand so I can pray for you.” Nobody ever raised their hands that they weren't sure.
I walked up to my Mom one day while she was sewing at the kitchen table and asked her why everyone got to raise their hands every Sunday at church. She told me that I needed to be saved and told me the sinner’s prayer to pray. I bowed my head right then and prayed that prayer, raising my hand right then, because I could now. :) I just wanted to be like everyone else in my church. That's just what everyone in my world did.
My pastor and parents began trying to coax me to get baptized, but I was afraid of water, so I refused to until I was six years old. I don’t think I really understood what salvation was or that I was really a sinner in need of salvation. It was just something that every good little church girl did. And I was determined to be the best little church girl. I followed all the rules, trying to please my parents and Sunday School teachers and pastor and school teachers. Even as my pastor finally baptized me, he asked me some questions about salvation. I don’t remember what they were or how I answered them, but whatever my serious responses were, they prompted the entire congregation to laugh at me.
The next year when I was seven, my little sister started asking questions about heaven and hell one night after church. My mom and dad sat us both down and told us again about the Gospel. I’m sure it was the true Gospel. I felt that I hadn’t really understood it before and was scared to think that I might still go to hell if I ever died. So I believe I truly repented that night. But I had already been baptized in front of everybody, so I didn’t tell anyone about it for fear they would try to baptize me again.
I remember being excited enough about it that I told my best friend at school all about the Gospel. I remember it, because she was shocked when I used the word “hell.” :D
I was really active in the church youth group and made it a point to “do” my daily devotions every morning before school. But I struggled with doubt all through my school years. I would wonder, “What if I didn’t say the right words? What if I didn’t really mean it sincerely enough? What if I hadn’t understood it enough? What if I couldn’t remember the exact date or the exact words I prayed?” I would pray over and over, “Lord, if I wasn’t really saved before, save me now.” But I was never sure.
I remember the year I was 15 as a year of spiritual darkness. I doubted everything I was ever taught, even down to the existence of any god whatsoever! I did some soul-searching and a little bit of research in our tiny little school library and decided quickly that there had to be a higher being that created the universe. It couldn’t have just happened for no reason; there is no effect without a cause.
Then I wondered if He was just a Force or maybe the God of the Mormons or Jehovah’s Witness. But I had many times before felt Him speak to me through His Word, enough to prove to me that He was the God of the Bible. Now down to the Bible. Was it to be interpreted literally or liberally? I just narrowed it down further and further until I realized that Protestantism had to be the closest to the Bible, and I had no problems remaining a Baptist. I even was forced into debating religion at school against all my other classmates who were either Mormons or atheists. I had an answer for all of their arguments and questions. But I still doubted every once in a while.
I made the decision early on to go to a Christian college. I prayed and prayed asking for guidance in college choice as well as career choice. I never got a definitive answer for the career, but I felt my choices narrowing and narrowing until I chose PCC. The very first week of my Freshmen year, they held a revival. I realized that all this time, though I knew the doctrines and believed intellectually in all the right beliefs, I had not been trusting in Jesus alone. I had been trusting—or rather, not trusting but doubting—in my prayer or understanding of my prayer. After that, I never had any doubts again!!! Praise the Lord!
Again, one of the reasons why I had doubts was because there was never a particular day that miraculously changed my life. There was never any obvious, glaring sin that I just stopped cold-turkey. But I’m now so thankful that the Lord saved me from that life of dirty sin, stained and heartbroken. I had and still have sins, but they are hidden inside, attitudes of my heart that are nasty and selfish. The Holy Spirit is slowly but surely sanctifying me and transforming me more and more into the image of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. And while I am no longer fearful of going to hell but know that I will eventually go to Heaven, everlasting life has already begun here. John 10:10 “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My [Jesus’s] purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life,” an abundant life, full of joy and struggle at the same time. I will never be perfect, but He is slowly perfecting me more and more. This is sanctification. This is my life now.