There are times when I think that perhaps the people who have heard my testimony will tire of it. Then I think again and realize that each time I share what God has done in my life, God gets the glory and enemy gets his head stomped on.
So...let the stomping begin...
My moment of salvation --changed forever -- in a moment. (Twice!)
I say twice because I am not one to believe or follow after the "once saved, always saved" theology. I know that there are many very good arguments for that theology and many very convincing debators who would disagree. And who knows, they may be right. However, in my heart of hearts, I know that whenever I walked away from the Lord that I had completely turned my back on Him. At one point, even speaking outloud that if living the life I was living meant spending an eternity away from God then so be it. That's how deep I was in sin. The sensual allure and stronghold that the sin and the enemy had on my heart was far more enticing than anything that God had to offer. What a liar Satan is. I remember the day I spoke the words..."if staying with her will mean that I go to hell...then I guess I'm going to hell...because I'm never leaving her." And I remember hearing the enemy say, "now I've got you."
Looking back, wondering HOW in the world I could have ever thought that. How I could have exchanged God's truth for a lie? How I could have just tossed away all that I knew about His goodness and His faithfulness? That whole thought process boggles my mind. For now, I can't imagine living my life for even one second without the Lord. He is my everything. His grace is amazing. His love is infinite and incomparable! He is an amazing God. And what's even more amazing is that He LOVES ME. Me. Who am I? No one worthy of such love, that's for sure. But love me He does and I am so grateful.
So, I had two moments of salvation. The first was at the age of nine. I was in Sunday School - in the pre-prayer / worship part of Sunday School when all of the classes sat together up in third floor annex of our church -the place we all refered to as "Peanut Heaven." I'll never forget the day. George, a.k.a. Brother Freed was leading us in prayer before we were to be dismissed to our classes and he asked if anyone wanted to accept Jesus as their Savior. My heart started beating faster and I got this funny feeling in the pit of my stomach and when he said, "if you do, then please step out of your seat and join me in the front and I'll pray for you," the Lord said, "go." And I went.
There were several other children who made a commitment to the Lord that day, but I have no idea who they were. At that moment, it was just me and Jesus. I remember it as if it were yesterday. I also remember that afterwards some of the kids said, "Debbie, we thought you were already saved...." And immediately there was a feeling of embarrassment as the enemy tried to make me feel ashamed of what I had done or hadn't done up until that point. And over the years he has used that statement to make me feel as if the girls who made those comments somehow thought that they were better than I. I'm going to say it again - the enemy is such a liar.
Over the next decade, I loved the Lord. I was in church every time the doors were open. My life revolved largely around my church youth group and I was there for each activity and each church service. Often, I could be found at the altar on Sunday evenings - on my knees, crying out to the Lord. He and I worked out a lot of stuff together and I was drawn ever closer to Him as He, in turn drew close to me. In my Christian life, all was sunshine and roses. I was secure in my faith. I knew where I was spending eternity and I spent a lot of effort telling my friends and teachers about His love. I was passionate about sharing my faith. After all, everyone deserves to know about His amazing love for us.
On a Sunday evening during my senior year of high school as I listened to others tesify about how the Lord had brought them out of a life filled with drugs or sex or every kind of sin you can imagine, I stood and testified how grateful I was that God had kept from all of that. I had stayed strong - and I knew it was only by His strength that I did.
Beware if you think you stand, lest ye fall. I'm not going to take the time to type out all the details of the twists and turns my life and heart took whenever I went away to college. Most of you who read my blog have heard the story more than once. If you're really interested, you may read the account which appears in four parts here, here, here, and here.
My second moment of salvation came whenever I was emotionally moved by the death of a pastor whom I hardly knew. Pastor Hatchner was a great man of God who touched many lives. As I cried over his death, I called out to God and asked Him why was I so broken up by the death of this this man who I hardly knew. The Lord showed me that it wasn't about Pastor Hatchner at all...but about what was missing in my life...His presence. I had completely shut the Lord out. I picked up my Bible, dusted it off, opened it at random, looked down and read in Jeremiah 31:3: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you."
Even now as I type those words, I can feel His presence. His love for me is amazing. He cared enough to pursue me - to never give up on me, even when I had discarded Him like an old rag. I dropped to my knees at that moment and surrendered my life - a second time.
There is no turning away from Him now. From that moment on, I was determined to press toward that prize. And that's exactly what it was and still is. Pressing. It was not an easy surrender. It was a surrender that took years to come to completion. Years before I was totally committed to leaving the lifestyle I lived. There were a lot of struggles, a lot of tears, a lot of heartache....the consequences of my sin.
Some days there are great obstacles to cross and oppositions to fight. The enemy is always on a mission doing whatever he can do to persuade me to give up on God. The road isn't always easy. But it's a road that I never have to travel alone. For the Lord has promised to never leave me or forsake me. His love for me is everlasting and I'm never letting go of that promise!
And what does the LORD require of you But to do justly,
To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?