I'm a doubter. Or, better said, I used to be a doubter. Since I had my first "salvation experience" at the age of 7, I've doubted.
Around that time, my sister got saved and baptized. I can remember how excited my parents were. We went out to eat to celebrate and there was a general air of happiness in our home. I followed in pursuit just weeks after that, not because I was convicted, but because I knew that's what would make my parents happy and that's what church-going people were supposed to do. I remember being left in my parents’ room to pray, propped up against the dresser sitting there wondering what I needed to be saying. I prayed, not really knowing what to say. I got up to leave and say I had been saved when I thought, “what if I haven’t been in here praying long enough?” So I went and sat back down, propped up yet again against the dresser and waited a few more minutes before popping my head out of the bedroom door and heading down the hallway back to the living room to announce the great news. What I didn’t know was that that wasn’t what salvation is. It wasn’t long after that that I began doubting my salvation, and rightfully so.
I spent countless nights for several years after that in complete and utter fear of going to Hell. If there was any situation that could arise in which I might die, I thought of it, contemplated it, and worried about it. Worried that I would die and go straight to hell. The odd part about this is that my motivation was always hell. It wasn't forgiveness of sins. It wasn't this deep realization of how incredibly sinful I am and how that sin is against a pure and holy God.
I had yet another "salvation experience" when I was 13. I remember waking my sister up and simply saying "I'm not saved." And it was true. I prayed again that night and just like always, the doubting wasn't far behind.
I never seemed to be able to connect that salvation isn't simply a prayer - a set of words.
When I was 15, I spent night after night after night laying in bed worrying that I didn’t do enough, believe enough, say the right thing. Shortly after that, my parents spent countless nights awake with me crying and trying to work through all of this with me. My dad took me to talk to Dr. Ron Mitchell - one of the best men I've ever been privileged to know. But while Bro. Ron could tell me anything and everything I ever wanted to know about the Bible, what he couldn't do was make me believe.... trust.
Doubts followed me out of high school, into college, and into my marriage. I had multiple conversations with Mark about it, even woke up in tears one night because I had a dream about Satan reaching out to grab ahold of me.
In March of 2007, I was 6 months pregnant with Eli and a few days from leaving to go to San Diego for my cousin's wedding. Mark was working night shift and I was up late reading John MacArthur's Saved Without A Doubt. It was then that my eyes were opened and I realized that saying a prayer over and over and over won't save anyone. Rather that salvation is about trusting the Father. Trusting that what He did was and is enough. It's about a relationship with Him, repenting/turning from my old ways to His ways. It's simply about following Him.... not a ritualistic prayer. It's not about what I did (church attendance, living the right way, serving, etc.) but rather about what He did for me. Although, all of those things should be evidence of a Christian's life, they are not always proof of salvation. I think that's where a lot of people get confused.
Finally, after almost 20 years of doubting, I had peace. All consuming peace. I called Mark to tell him. I told my sister, brother, and sister-in-law. And then... I sadly did nothing. I'm ashamed to say it, but pride found it's way into this situation and I never followed through with being baptized. Satan convinced me that since I'd already been baptized there was really no need in doing it again. And so I didn't.
I thought about it often. And just as often as I thought about it, I pushed it back into the recesses of my mind. The more time passed, the harder I found it to say anything... to do anything.
Several weeks ago we started attending our church's mission plant, Connection Point. God works in mighty ways and after a few weeks, we decided to join. The only problem was that I couldn't technically join because, although I was on the roster at TBC, I wasn't legitimately a member. If I wanted to join, then it would have to be through obedience, which I should've done a long time ago. So I presented myself for baptism and will be following through with that this Sunday.
I've been free since March of 2007. But man, do I truly feel free now. No more secrets. No more trying to figure out what to do. It's just done. And it feels great. If you're in the area and would like to be there, feel free to come celebrate with us. I'd love to have you.