At the age of nine, I attended a local Baptist church with my family. I had expressed a desire to be saved to my mom. She took me to the pastor of the church who led me in a prayer, and declared me to be saved. I do not remember him asking my any questions to make sure I understood biblical salvation, but I do remember during the prayer I glanced up at my mom. I knew I was making her proud.
My family then joined a charismatic church, where we attended until I was in my mid teens. The Lord began dealing with my heart about the contradictions I saw in my own life, my family, and the church I attended. My family was somewhat religious at times, but very dysfunctional. I spent my nights crying myself to sleep when no one was looking. I battled anorexia and suicidal thoughts. I hated life. I knew something was not right, though I was not sure what was missing. I knew I wanted something real- something true.
In 1993, I met Jason Woon in a computer class in high school. The first question he asked me was if I was saved. I said I was, thinking back to the time when I said that prayer at the age of nine. Jason invited me to his church. When I attended his church, I heard a clear presentation of the Gospel for the first time. I battled confusion for two years over the reality of my salvation, or lack thereof. I had been so convinced that the prayer I repeated when I was younger meant I was saved.
In the fall of 1994, I began attending Bible college. I enjoyed learning more about the Bible, but there was always something nagging my heart about my own salvation. Then in the spring of 1995, I was sitting in Missions class when God made an undeniable fact very clear to me. The professor began explaining repentance. Trying as hard as I could, I could not remember repenting when I said my little prayer at the age of nine. The professor then explained that we do not just need to be forgiven for individual sins. He said we have to be forgiven because we ARE sinners.
As I looked back over my life I remembered praying for individual sins. I thought that if one of them was not forgiven when I died, I would not enter Heaven. This professor was now telling me the problem was not just what I did, but what I was- a sinner. My prayers themselves demonstrated that I had never really trusted Christ as my Savior, but that I had depended on my own works of keeping a short account. For about two more weeks I struggled, realizing that I may have lived a lie for nine years.
Finally, I broke. I was driving in my car, crying uncontrollably. I began praying. I told God I didn’t understand all there was to know about salvation, but that if I was not saved, I wanted Him to save me right then. I told Him that I could not be good enough and that His Son was the only hope I had. I knew Jesus had died for me, to pay my debt. I knew He rose from the dead. I had spent my life doing things my way, doing what was right in my own eyes, and I had made a real mess of things. I just wanted to give it all to Him for Him to do with as He pleased. I trusted Christ for my salvation, and Him alone.
That day, I not only surrendered to Him for His perfect salvation, but I surrendered my life to Him for service. That night I no longer cried myself to sleep. The weight was gone. The guilt, the shame, the hypocrisy- GONE! I no longer just had a merciful god who I hoped to appease. I had a Savior Who loved me enough to die for me because He knew His death, burial, and resurrection was my only hope. What joy that brought me that I still experience today- my cup truly runneth over. There really is power in the Gospel.
Luke 7:47 "Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little."
I will not share what sins God forgave on that day, but I will say that there are many reasons I love Him so much. My sins were many, and deep, and ugly. He forgave them all. Presenting my body as a living sacrifice is such a small thing. He deserves so much more.
The Scriptures that changed my life:
Rom 3:10 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:
Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
Joh 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Joh 3:17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
Joh 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.