Friday, May 6, 2016

Haunted



Am I Saved?

That's a question that haunted me for years.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I wasn't raised in a typical church. My parents were in the military and we spent many years overseas. Worship services were divided into two groups: Catholic and everyone else. We were "everyone else." Dad didn't think much of church so we didn't go very often anyway. 

My understanding of Jesus came through Christmas hymns and the songs we sang as kids. "Jesus Loves Me." "Jesus Loves the Little Children." I didn't understand why Good Friday was good. I knew Easter was a joyous time because Jesus was alive but I didn't grasp the significance. 

One night, when I was 16, Dad was out of town so Mom turned the TV to a Billy Graham crusade. I was fascinated by the simple message: Jesus loved me so much that He died for me so I could be forgiven. He rose from the dead so I could live with Him forever. Billy Graham's words penetrated my heart in a way I'd never experienced before. 

In the middle of the night, I woke up filled with a sense of worthlessness and hopelessness. I remember crying because I thought there was no way God could love me. 

I whispered, "Jesus, if You will accept me, I give myself to You." 

I can't describe the love, acceptance, peace, and joy I felt. I felt like I was wrapped in a warm blanket. I still cry as I think about it. 

A hunger for God's Word and a yearning to be in church filled me. My search for a church home is a topic for next Friday's post. 

I settled into a church, a true babe in Christ, and I was lost and confused much of the time. I didn't understand a lot of the "Christian vocabulary."

And I was scared. 

Every time I heard the pastor or my teacher repeat the "sinner's prayer," I panicked.

Jesus, I know You died on the cross for me.
I am a sinner and I ask you to forgive me.
Come into my heart and give me the gift of eternal life. 
Amen.

Um...I didn't say any of that, not exactly. 

  • I knew He died for me but I didn't voice it that night.
  • I knew how worthless and hopeless I was and I asked Him to accept me. Was that the same as asking for forgiveness?
  • I gave myself to Him,  all that I was. Was that the same as asking Him to come into my heart?
  • I knew He was alive but I didn't think about it at that moment. 

Was I saved? Saved from what? I didn't think about Hell. I wanted to be saved from myself, the worthless, hopeless person I was, and to become His - loved and cherished.

Then God led me to what is now my favorite verse, familiar as it is. Many of us can quote John 3:16 in our sleep. For me, in my fear, it was a new and precious truth.

God loved me - I felt that to the depths of my soul.
He gave His Son for me - I was and still am in awe of that
I believed in Him - with all my heart, my mind, and my strength.

Jesus said it, I believe it, and that's good enough! 

Uncertainty faded away. I no longer repeat the "sinner's prayer" again and again because I'm afraid it didn't stick.

Often we need the guidance of a prayer to form our thoughts but we don't come to Jesus through a formula. 

Jesus doesn't need to hear what we believe deep in our hearts; He sees it already. What He wants is our desire to be His and His alone. 

Dear one, if you have given yourself to Jesus and you feel His love in and around you, don't let anyone or anything destroy your confidence.

If you have said all the right words but there still is an ache, a hole in your heart, reach out to Jesus and ask Him to take you, just as you are, and to make you His. He will bathe you in His love and you will belong to Him forever. 

He loves us beyond all we can imagine!


If these words blessed you, Please Share!

4 comments:

  1. Sherry, wonderful. I wanted to reach out and give you a sisterly hug, but you'll have to accept a cyber one! :) So glad God has the assurance we need! Sharing, tweeting as usual.

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    1. I'm so thankful for you, Carole! You are always so encouraging. Save that sisterly hug, I have one for you, too.

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  2. Oh Sherry, I so relate to your story, except I was in my late forties. I commuted to work everyday listening to CNN. Every altar call, I would repeat the words ... just in case. Like you, I knew He loved me, that I loved Him, and that I'd surrendered but I feared I didn't say the right words in my own broken moment before him. Thanks for this great post.

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    1. What joy to know that God looks past human words and to the "words" our hearts speak. The security we have in Him is a precious gift! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Deb.

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