Wow, my very first Memorial Box Monday post! I thought it only fitting to share the moment Jesus saved me, July 26, 2001! I need to back up four years.
We had been faithfully attending church, having personal quiet times and reading the Bible. Kenzie had been born, had become very sick, and God had chosen to heal her. Soon after her recovery, Clayton and I began to contemplate accepting Christ. It seems strange now that it was such a difficult decision, but God had an awesome plan in the midst of our conversations and questions. We knew it was an individual decision, and we were each ready. The following Sunday, Clayton was so convicted of his need for Jesus that he couldn’t help but respond … and I followed suit. Little did I know that was only a baby step toward my walk with Christ.
I continued to study and serve. Eventually we sensed that God was calling us to a church within our own community, where Kuyler attended school and we resided. We began to make new friends and really enjoyed the fellowship with our new church family. We preferred serving ‘behind the scenes,’ but when the church requested prayer to fill the youth Sunday school teacher position, we felt we had to come out f the shadows. After much prayer and discussion, we couldn’t ignore the call. Even before that I had been asked to help with youth events, seemingly out of the blue, and had found out how much I loved this sometimes unlovable group of 13 to 18 year olds. Two weeks before we were to start teaching Sunday school I took my first trip to Falls Creek as a youth sponsor. I was scared to death, but found myself being challenged by the pastor and youth pastor. I even agreed to serve as an adult encourager, meaning that when a student responded to the invitation, I would help answer their questions and share the gospel with them. What an amazing opportunity!
During the last noon Tabernacle service we played “The Game.” We weren’t told how it was going to work; we learned only by observation, and then realized the object was to move as quickly as possible. So, we have 5,000 teens and adults in the Tabernacle, there are a few students on the stage who begin to move among the crowd. Some are holding tickets. Suddenly a ‘breaking’ news bulletin flashes on the overhead televisions. There’s been a wreck on the high road and everybody wearing flip flops has perished. If you have heard the Gospel and accepted Christ you are going to heaven (the stage), and if you have not accepted Christ, you are going to hell (the back of the tabernacle). So now that everyone knows how the game is played, suddenly we’re all frantically trying to reach the disciples. The rule is they must share their testimony and we must make a decision for Christ before the next tragedy strikes. Some of the disciples are also handing out ‘go to heaven free’ passes.
Finally our youth pastor heard the Gospel, accepted Christ and began sharing his testimony with me … but in the midst of sharing, tragedy struck and I was rendered ‘dead.’ It was only a game, but the climb over benches to get to ‘hell’ was the most daunting event. Then those of us banished to eternal fire had to sit and watch the rest of the game, and it was the most eerie feeling. In the end, the wheat was separated from the chaff (Matthew 3:12); however, those who thought they’d gotten into heaven on a free pass, were soon reminded there is only one way to spend eternity in Heaven, and that is through faith in Jesus, not a ‘get out of hell free’ pass (but I’m generally a good person; I go to church; I read my Bible; I’ve never committed a crime…).
The following week I was challenged to memorialize my testimony. As I sat down to write, there simply were no words. I realized even though I had been reading the Word, serving and attending church, I did NOT have a relationship with Jesus. I was doing things but had neglected the main thing: recognizing my sin and need for a Savior, turning my life over to Him. I was miserable. I couldn’t let another day go by without making this right … but Satan tried to get a hold of me by making me feel ashamed and embarrassed because so many people thought I was a Christian. How would I explain this? To what or whom would I credit my ‘growth’ over the past four years? I called my pastor, thinking he could help me sort through this. Truth is, the conviction was so strong there was no getting around it – I needed Christ!
In the middle of the afternoon in our living room with my husband and my pastor present, I wept, asked forgiveness, and trusted Christ as my Lord and Savior! Immediately I knew I had to be baptized, despite the potential embarrassment. I had to stand before my church family and testify what Jesus had done in my life, and thank God for his grace and mercy over the past four years. I realized if I had died, I would have been in total disbelief on judgment day when God would say to me, “I never knew you. Away from me….” (Matthew 7:23)
I was reminded of just how much my life had paralleled ‘the game.’ In the game I was ‘almost’ into heaven, but there are no ‘almosts’ concerning eternity.
That was almost nine years ago, and I haven’t looked back. No games, no passes, just the real deal from here on out!