Prodigal: my testimony.
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.
Posted on December 23, 2010, in Personal and tagged Antioch Baptist Church, Baptism, Christian Living, Forgiveness, God's Grace, Grace Baptist Bible Fellowship, My Testimony, Parkview Baptist Church, Pastor George Crabb, Pastor Glenn DeSota, Pastor Steven G. Brown, Prayer, Preaching, Salvation, Silverdome, Steve Petit Evangelistic Team. Bookmark the permalink. 20 Comments.