I don’t remember the exact date, though I could figure it out if I did some digging, but I do remember the feeling. I remember feeling nervous to walk down the aisle because I knew everyone would be looking at me. I remember thinking everyone was judging me, silently calling me “that sinner.” I remember feeling like I wasn’t good enough for God’s forgiveness. I had done some awful things in my less-than-a-decade-of life. Why should God forgive me? I wasn’t even sure if I wanted forgiveness. I’d battled the debate in my head all week. In order to be forgiven of my sins, I first had to admit that I sinned. Ouch! My anxiety was overwhelming me.
I do remember feeling Him calling. This may seem cliché, but it was a “tugging” feeling. I may not have literally “clenched the pew”, but I did clench my fists. I was scared. I don’t remember the sermon. I do remember the preacher: Bro. Mack Black. I don’t remember who was sitting next to me. I do remember the chapel at Clara Springs Baptist Camp. I remember standing up and walking forward. I do not remember the moments following. I know I told Bro. Black what I was feeling, and I know he lead me through a prayer of acceptance, and forgiveness, and faith, but the memory of it has faded now. The next thing I remember is sitting on the edge of the stage in the chapel next to the other kids who had also just accepted the gift of eternal life. I remember I was the only one wiping tears out of my eyes, and the other kids were asking me why I was crying. I didn’t really feel “different,” but I did feel something. I can now confidently say, looking back over my life, that the something I felt was joy. From the moment I said, “I do,” I have encountered countless times of temptation and tragedy, but none of them could remove from my heart the joy of Jesus Christ and the comfort of knowing that my body will die but my spirit will not.
Like I mentioned before, I don’t remember the exact conversation I had with God on whatever day it was. But “I do’s” always come with vows, right? If I were having this conversation for the first time with God today, this is what I would say:
- I do believe that You are God. The only God. The true God. The Creator.
- I do believe that I am a sinner, in need of your saving grace.
- I do believe that Jesus, your Son, lived a perfect, unblemished life to be the perfect sacrifice and was crucified to provide a way for all to be forgiven of their sins if they believe this Truth and repent.
- I do believe your Holy Spirit is alive in me and guides me along the right path for Your name’s sake.
- I do believe that the Bible is Your living Holy Word and that anyone who has ears to hear will understand it’s truth.
- I do believe that Your call for me is to grow ever closer to You through prayer and praise, reading and hearing and studying of the Word, fellowshipping with and encouraging fellow believers, witnessing through my testimony and raising up disciples, and serving the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, and the grief-stricken.
- I do believe that You will never leave me nor forsake me.
- I do believe that I will live eternally in Heaven when my body dies, but that I will first be judged by the way I lived my life.
I wrote this blog months ago. When Josh first read it, he was concerned about why I had told about my deliverance without first stating what it was Jesus had delivered me from. I reacted angrily. I didn’t want to share all that nasty stuff. But, Josh was right. I felt myself distancing myself from God, unable to pray because I knew what He wanted me to do. Finally, I wrote This Is My Song, but the devil tried earnestly to keep me from doing so all day. I asked God to help me, to take the wheel and give me the right words. I had to abandon the dishes and the laundry. The kids watched TV for hours. At nap time, the girls dug through the diaper pale and the big twins snuck out of bed to make “pizza, like the ninja turtles.” God’s grace got me through all that, and when I had to make up for it the next day, everything fell into place and all my kids were still as happy as ever. And, I have never felt more free in my life. Now, I can pray without hesitation and focus on the two whose salvation is pressing heavily on my heart. Confession is not meant to serve the purpose of forgiveness, but of testimony to unbelievers, accountability among believers, and freedom from guilt. Share your story.
He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on a stand? For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open. If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.” Matthew 4:21-22