I am of the unwavering persuasion that everyone who has ever come to Christ has a beautiful, moving story to tell. It doesn't have to be complicated, or long. Just tell it. God gave you and I our separate stories for a reason- for in it, I guarantee, someone will relate with YOUR story. You never know who you might touch. With that in mind, I shall relate my simple life-changing story.
As a young child, due to some hard circumstances, I suffered from horrid nightmares. They were dark, harrowing things, and even now I wonder how the brain of someone so young could come with such terrible visions. But one dream in particular has stuck with me all these years. I went and told Pa about it, as I often did. I was standing in a field with dark woods ahead. Just before the tree line began stood an angel and a snake. The angel was weeping and the snake laughing. At the time, it seemed to just be scary, but looking back, the meaning is fairly clear to me, as it probably was to Pa all along.
I'd been in a the-Bible-is-the-final-word church for for two years, and was now eight year old, when I came to that all-important point of decision. For one reason or other, our Pastor decided for our Sunday night Bible study to play a preaching video instead of teach. It was a sermon that a friend of his had preached, taped and was selling. I remember that sermon so well. It was the story of David's three mighty men, the three who braved the Philistines to get their lord some water from the well of Bethlehem, just because he'd mentioned he'd like to once again taste the sweet waters. And then, when his "big three" fight their way through the enemy, grab the water and fight their way back, how they were rewarded by David's gratefulness and how the king of Israel honored them by pouring out the water as an offering to the Lord. (you can read the story here: 2 Samuel 23:13-17, or you can read further about the accomplishments of the might men here: 2 Samuel 23:39) The sermon was actually aimed at Christians whose loyalty was perhaps not quite up to par. But it touched me. In a big way. The thought struck me for the first time- I would have to choose a side. One couldn't remain in the middle because "the middle" did not exist.
The car ride home was a torment for me. I tend to process things for a long time mentally anyway, but I could not get that one thought out of my head. Over and over it whispered, gently but persistently. Somehow, I must have gotten home, eaten dinner and changed for bed, though the memory doesn't exist. When Pa came to pray with me and tuck me into bed. I told him, "Pa, I need to get saved." And he said, "Do you know what to do?" I replied that I did know, and then knelt by my bed. He knelt with me. (All of Biblical parenting could be contained in that one little sentence.) I don't remember exactly what I prayed; it was more the whole state of mind, the attitude, that counted, not the words. More that anything else, I remember the feeling of a huge weight being lifted- an enormous burden that I didn't even know I was carrying. A bundle of sin and guilt, like Christian in Pilgrim's Progress. But now it was GONE. To this day, I can almost literally feel the way it felt to have that removed. This was October 28th, 2000.
That was the happy part. But you see, I figured, now that I'm out of Hell, I'm good to go. And I let everything else go. There was fruit of salvation; my parents will attest to that. But the thought never occurred to me that salvation can be more, much, much, much, more than just the chance to stay out of Hell and get to go to Heaven when I died. So, for ten years, yes, 10 years, I lived as though I was not saved at all. Oh, on the outside I looked/talked/acted like a good kid, but I was deceptive. Terribly so. (But I wasn't fooling near as many as I thought.) And I was in utter inner turmoil. For 10 loooooooooong torturous years.
And then, a tiny light started to do a little dance in the back of my dark brain. (Isaiah 9:2) Signs and red flags started appearing, flashing, warning me about what I was doing. I couldn't tell you exactly what they were. Some were just something someone said a long time ago. Or a simple look. A verse from the sermon. A quiet little niggling. A sign of life from the Spirit that had so long been tamped down into the murkiness of my once-washed heart. I had not lost my salvation. I had fallen from grace. (One CANNOT lose their salvation-another post / another time, as is the "fallen from grace" bit.)
It finally dawned on me that the problem wasn't with everyone else. One of my theology teachers put it this way: "If Bob has a problem with John, and Bob has a problem with Sue, and Bob has a problem with Bill, then Bob has a problem." : ) So, I finally noticed who was the common denominator in all MY problems and realized something had to change. And that something was me. I began to pray. I can't put a date on it or even a particular moment. But my prayer was to the extent of "Okay, Lord, I know I've got to change. Please just show me the first step. Just give it to me one step at a time." Within a week, I went to our Monday night Bible class and we were studying I John (which is now my favorite book in the New Testament). When the teacher started teaching on I John 1: 5-7 (I know I've quoted these lots of times before, but just bear with me here.)
"...God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
And then: *light bulb*. I got it. And the next step suddenly revealed itself in that little whisper that the saved know so well. The next step was baptism. Then and there the decision was made. The moment I made that resolve, I was flooded with such an overwhelming peace. When we arrived back home, I talked to Pa about it. A few Sundays later, we discussed it with my Pastor. During that night's study, I was voted in. And then we left for vacation and I wasn't actually baptized until October 30th, 2011. I remember the date exactly because of one unique weather pattern. For the first time in twenty years (where we live) it snowed in October. And I was baptized outside. Via immersion. Don't you dare tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor. :)
And since that day, though I fail more often then I wish to count, I've been resting in His grace. Pray for me. I need it.
I'd love, love, LOVE to hear your story. Drop me a line. Go on, make my day.