Prodigal: my testimony.

The story of the Prodigal has always hit a little close to home for me. Let me share my testimony with you all…

I was adopted at the age of 8 weeks old. You can read that story here. I was raised in a Christian home by parents who were constantly busy serving the Lord at the local church we attended. My brother made a profession of faith at a young age, and would continuously ask my mom when I was going to get saved too. Obviously, no one can “force” salvation on anyone else. Salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit – the convicting, the wooing, the saving, the sealing, the keeping – it’s all a work of the Lord. So my mother would tell him what any honest parent would tell their child: “I don’t know…”

Well, when I was 3 years old I began to grow tired of my brother constantly nagging me about this “salvation” business, so I knelt down by the love seat in our living room with my mother and prayed a little prayer – and with that I considered myself saved. *voila!* I was baptised by my pastor about a year later.

There was one problem with that whole scenerio. Nothing changed. There was no working of the Holy Spirit in my life. There was no inward desire to serve the Lord. There was no outward look that showed forth the inward events that had taken place. I was just as I ever was before. And I lived that way until I was 11 years old.

On May 1, 2000 – just days before my 12th birthday – my mother, brother, and I attended a “Revival Crusade” hosted by the Steve Petit Evangelistic Team at the Detroit Lion’s Silverdome. It was a huge event! They had games and pizza for the youth a couple hours before the service started – so naturally, that’s what I was there for. What I wasn’t prepared for was the hell-fire and brimstone, spitting, screaming, yelling-your-socks-off preaching that followed. I couldn’t tell you what He preached on, or what book of the Bible he was in… but I can tell you that I was scared to death of dying. All I wanted to do was split the scene as soon as the service ended, and I had absolutely no desire to return the next night for another service. Unfortunately, we ran into a long-time family friend after the service and he begged us to come back the next evening. My brother was excited, mom said maybe, and I said no. The whole car ride home I came up with every excuse why we shouldn’t go back the next evening, but it was no use – the decision had been made: we were going back.

I dreaded every second of the drive there… and when we arrived at the Silverdome, I dragged my feet all the way to the building. There were no games or pizza on that evening – just singing and preaching. This time I can even tell you what Steve Petit preached on – Hell. And the song they played during the altar call was “Just As I Am.” I don’t know if what I felt was conviction or flat-out fear. I sat in the little fold-down stadium seat and cried my eyes out. When mom didn’t take notice and ask me what was wrong, I cried and sniffled all the louder until she did. I wanted to walk the ailse (or, cement steps, rather) but I was surrounded by people I knew. *What will they think of me?! I’ve been claiming to be saved for 9 years now!*  But then I decided what other people thought really didn’t matter… it only mattered what God thought and what I knew about myself. Mom gathered up all our belongings as we walked down the steps to where the altar workers were standing. To my great surprise (and delight), the lady that dealt with me was named Heather.

I was crying hysterically – I was afraid of dying. Perhaps giant elephants would fall through the ceiling and land on me. Perhaps a gangster would run through the crowd and shoot me. Perhaps God would get frustrated with all my craziness and strike me with lightening. I can’t even tell you all the weird things that ran through my head that evening – but I can tell you that I bowed my head and prayed a prayer. I was pretty sure I’d never been more serious about anything in all my life. I was baptised by my pastor about 2 years later.

There was one problem with that whole scenerio. Nothing changed. There was no working of the Holy Spirit in my life. There was no inward desire to serve the Lord. There was no outward look that showed forth the inward events that had taken place. I was just as I ever was before. There were two small points during that time period where I lived the “Christian life” through my own strength and efforts. But it wasn’t real; it wasn’t because the Lord enabled me to do so. And I lived that way until I was 21 years old.

There, under an Old Fashioned Tent in Livonia (MI) in July of 2009, I sat on the metal folding chair and pondered what my life had contained until that moment. Lies. My life was one giant lie composed by many thousands of little lies. My heart was silent, but God was ever-speaking quietly to my soul. Icouldn’t tell you what the preacher preached on that night – I know it was nothing remotely close to a typical “salvation message.” I can’t say that there was cymbols bashing in my mind, or butterflies tickling my insides, or flustered nerves rushing through my veigns. I was calm, the world was shut out, and only one thought was pacing back and forth through my mind: “I’m not saved. I’m going to Hell.”  That echoed in my mind for what seemed like centuries as I tried to prove the Spirit wrong with reminding Him of my previous two professions. I knew what I needed to do. I knew the Bible verses, the songs, the words by heart. I knew what making another profession of faith would entail – the looks, the questions, the believers’-baptism. *sigh* I quietly stood up from my seat – this night was as good a night as any, and why should I put up with the doubts any longer? It was time to get the assurance I had been trying to reason into my life for so long.

I needed some support. I needed some comfort. I needed someone to pray with – a witness, so that I would always have someone to remind me that the Lord keeps His promises and is a faithful Keeper. I tapped my Pastor’s wife on the shoulder and she was more than happy to pray with me. There were no tears. There were no raw emotions. I was dry. I was empty. I was lost. Looking for a little assurance from her, she shook her head and said, “Heather, I can’t tell you whether or not you’re saved. That’s between you and the Lord – only He knows your heart. But answer me this: are you willing to stake your eternity on what you have now…? Is it enough for you?”

The answer was an obvious one to me. I wasn’t sure; and I wasn’t willing to stake my eternity on “maybe’s” and “hope so’s.” So, for the last time, I bowed my head and asked Jesus to open the door to my heart, clean it up, wash it thoroughly with His blood, save me, and set up His throne-room inside. As much as I would like to tell you that bells and whistles sounded the moment I said “amen,” I can’t. As much as I would like to tell you that fireworks shot into the sky and stars danced around me the moment I opened my eyes, I can’t. There were no tingly feelings rushing through my body when I stood up. There were no high emotions or tears. But there was peace. There was a white flag raised and thrusted into the battleground of my heart – it was a flag raised by myself, surrendering myself completely over to the Victorious Warrior. The enemy ran fleeing from the fight. I was baptised by my pastor about 2 weeks later.

Did I get saved with “profession #1″…? Maybe. Probably not. I don’t really know. Well, what about “profession #2″… was that the one? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t really know. Then “profession #3” was it for sure, right? I can only tell you that I have not had one doubt about my salvation since I asked the Lord to be my Savior as I knelt under that tent.

It’s good to be saved. It’s good to be reminded of what the Lord has done in my life. The whole reason I started thinking about my testimony was this song. I am the prodigal.

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Posted on December 23, 2010, in Personal and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.

  1. “There was a white flag raised and thrusted into the battleground of my heart”

    What a fantastic line!

    It’s weird how with God, surrender means victory rather than defeat… He’s like, the King of Topsy Turvy!

    Thanks for your honesty.

    • It seems everything with God is backwards than what we people think and do.
      The foolish confound the wise.
      Turn the other cheek.
      Sew in tears, reap in joy.
      Children inherit the Kingdom.
      and the list goes on and on.
      And Calvary…? I never would’ve willingly sent my son to die for a world of sinners.
      But that’s my Savior.

      God bless you,
      Heather Joy

  2. You do indeed write beautifully, a faithful God made the overtures and at just the right time – His Time – you were ushered into The Kingdom.

  3. Elijah knew that God didn’t come through powerful stuff like fire or thunder…but in gentle whispers….This is a beautiful and powerful testimony sister Heather…He did come….through the quiet of your humbled heart…Merry Christmas again and God bless and protect you always as you continue to share His truth. To Him be the glory and may His healing, comfort and strength cover you. Remembering you always in prayers.

    • I guess Elijah saw the best of both sides – when fire rained down from Heaven and consumed the altar on that hillside one evening. Thus, displaying the power of God to the false prophets of Baal. THEN in the still, small voice, while Elijah was alone and running from those who wanted to take his life, God Almighty spoke to him on the side of that mountain. The thunder and rumblings proceeded the stillness in order to get Elijah’s attention. Sometimes God has to take drastic measures to get us to focus – but once He has our attention, the “shoutings” cease and his peace sets in.
      Thank you for the reminder (and for allowing my mind to bunny trail).
      Merry Christmas to you as well! And thank you so very much for your continued prayers.
      Happy New Year!
      ~ Heather Joy

  4. It is good to be saved. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Loved to read this…I love reading testimonies, they are so powerful. Thanks for sharing yours! Merry CHRISTmas!

    • @David – Thank you for visiting. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts over at Ebs & Flows… 🙂

      @Jessica – Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment! I, like yourself, love to hear other people’s testimonies. I love hearing all the wonderful things the Lord has done for them and in them. His grace never ceases to amaze me.

      May God continue to richly bless you both.

  6. >> “Nothing changed” “Nothing changed”
    >> “But there was peace”

    Peace – wonderful peace . . . and since then things HAVE changed. You are no longer the same. You are under a different command. You are loved by a perfect Father God. You are a different person who delights in her Saviour.

    Thank you for sharing your testimony.

  7. More and more, it fascinates me to see how God will give each of us some one “gift” or “fruit” of the Spirit when we come to Him – and how He gives different people different ones. Like that first one’s a “seed,” and then the others grow as we live in Him.

    For you, that initial “fruit” was peace. I think that’s wonderful. For me, it was that I stopped having trouble controlling my temper. Before, when my grandfather would take me fishing along the upper part of the Iron River (we lived in the western Upper Peninsula; now we live in Wyoming), I’d always tangle my pole in the thick brush between the highway (US 2) and the river, quickly lose my patience, and curse my way through the rest of the brush to the water.

    After my altar experience (in my case, the first one) the brush was just as thick, and I tangled my pole just as often. But suddenly I wasn’t even tempted to get mad. I just calmly, patiently, made my way to the river and started fishing. Don’t recall that I caught any more fish than before, or that they were any bigger. And I still had to learn to trust the Word, not my feelings, which went up and down. But it was clear something “good,” something definite, had happened. And that particular change has never gone away.

    Praying for God to continue blessing you and helping you.

  8. Thanks to Calvary I am not the man I used to be
    Thanks to Calvary things are different than before
    And as the tears ran down my face I tried to tell them
    Thanks to Calvary, I don’t live here anymore.
    ~ Bill Gaither

    “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” ~ II Corinthians 5:17

    Thank you for sharing a portion of your testimony with me. I hope you had a very Merry Christmas!
    Happy New Year!
    ~ Heather Joy

  9. I’m going to agree with meetingintheclouds, absolutely love, love love this line: “There were no high emotions or tears. But there was peace.”

    Sometimes we get distracted, lost or confused about what being “saved” is all about, even after having made the decision to dedicate your life one, two or even three times.

    Love this testimony, glad I came across this post. Thank you.

    • Ben, welcome, and thank you for stopping by!
      For me, being “saved” was something I tried to obtain on my own. I tried to live a good life and follow all the so-called “rules” in my own merit. But I could not.
      Hence, I continued to fall away because I’d get discouraged and say, “well, what’s the point anyways…”
      But when a person meets Jesus, it’s no longer “what can I do…?” it then becomes “look what He did!” because at that point, it’s not about trying to live a good life to obtain something; it’s all about living for the Lord because you love Him and are trying to say “thank you” for what He accomplished in your life.
      May God continue to richly bless you.
      Happy New Year!
      ~ Heather Joy

  10. Great stuff Heather! Thanks for commenting on my blog too. It’s flattering to have an experienced blogger like you leave a note on my site! Rock on! 🙂

  11. Beautiful testimony. Growing up in church sometimes it felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall. Of course every Sunday you hear the whole gospel message and I felt like I was in a rut. It’s like I’m a believer, I’m saved, it’s there more beyond the getting saved? Though I must confess I was merely sprinkled at age 9. After long thought I definitely do want to be dunked at some point.

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