The Confusion Starts….

I was really beginning to enjoy going to this church. It was small, but there were advantages. Because of it size, I knew, well everyone. We were not lost in the balcony of some huge Southern Baptist Church, or confined to our “small group”.

Sure there were no kids my age, but I was used to that….somewhat. I had read an article in “The King’s Daughter” about Standing Alone.  This greatly encouraged me to not be so upset with being the only teenaged girl in my church. And the only teenager who wanted to serve the Lord!  (There were three teenaged boys, who quite frankly, were a bit odd)

Then came a day when my mom and sister were in the car talking about their salvation testimonies. I didn’t know it at the time, but my sister was struggling with the assurance of her salvation….and I guess asking my mom some pretty serious questions. I had fallen asleep in the back our Honda Accord, and woke up groggily to their conversation.

I don’t remember every word. I just remember mom saying, “Well the new Pastor says this about salvation”…. and my sister responded with a deeper question. They saw that I was awake and they asked me when I was saved. I told them the story about my New Testament Bible…that’s when I asked Jesus to come into my heart.

I didn’t think much of my answer then, and the subject changed.

A few weeks later, there was a “Revival Meeting” at the IFB church that we had faithfully been attending. We were not members yet…although we had been going consistently for about three months at that point. 

As the rival approached, there was a spirit of excitement in the air. Revivals were exciting times in our little IFB church.

This was the first time that I ever experienced a “revival”.  Any extra church services in the past, always centered on a special concert, or comedian/musician, A Play, a Seminar, or Candlelight Christmas Eve.  Not ever, just straight preaching for two hours a night!

As we went through revival week, I heard preaching like I had never heard before. That man would get up to that pulpit, and pretty much scream and squeal like a little pig, when he got all excited. He was so emotionally charged, that I got emotionally charged. I mistook it for the Holy Spirit moving through my body at that time. I felt tingling in my feet and goosebumps on my arms.

I honestly do not remember what the whole week was about. I do know he preached a lot about soul winning. He made me want to get up out of the pew right then and there and go save the lost for Jesus!

But he must have said other things too that bothered me….because a couple of weeks after he left, dad and I were riding in the car together somewhere. Dad said that he and mom were seriously considering joining that church. He asked me if I liked the church and would want to join too?

I burst into tears….Dad didn’t know what he said wrong, poor guy! But he finally got out of me that I didn’t know if I was saved,  so I couldn’t join the church. I think he looked a little relieved that he wasn’t at fault for my emotional outburst. 😉

He then comforted me and told me that we would go home and talk to mom about it.

When we got home, and I “confessed” to mom my doubts, and she sort of looked shocked. She had seen my transformation of a semi-bratty kid, to a young “teenager”, no less, trying to live a righteous life of obedience to Jesus. My “works” matched my testimony. But she also comforted me, and suggested that I talk to the Pastor.

Let me back up a few minutes here. As I write this now, I distinctly remember the pastor  always saying from the pulpit,
“Are you SURE you are saved? Are you Sure, you’re sure? Are you sure,  you’re sure, you’re sure? 100% sure with no doubt? I Can’t tell you if you’re saved, that’s between you and God. Only God knows your heart.”

At first, this little saying didn’t bug me. Especially when we first started going to this church. But as time wore on, this little word ritual from the pulpit began to wear on me. The revival preacher, also, must have said some stuff to cause me to really start to question my salvation.

Ok, back now to the story where my mom suggested I talk to the Pastor. Because the Pastor always said, “I can’t tell you if you are saved or not…” I was expecting him to say that to me when I talked to him. I was expecting him to help me sort this confusion out.

So we went into a little Sunday School room…my parents, him and the pastor’s wife….and I told him I wasn’t sure if I was saved.

He asked me what made me begin to wonder about it. I told him, “Well, after the evangelist came through I started to question things.  I asked Jesus into my heart at five years old, but I don’t know if I understood what sin was at the time…or the idea of needing to be saved.”

What the Pastor *SHOULD OF DONE*, but did not, was not assume what I said. He should have given me the gospel, and told me exactly what sin is, what the penalty of sin is, and tell me about Jesus, and His finished work…the death, burial and resurrection….what it all meant to me personally.

Instead….He nodded his head in understanding and said, “You were not saved then. Would you like to get saved now?” (Remember, he always hounded from the pulpit that he could never tell a person they were saved or not?)

All the blood left my body it seemed, and I felt light-headed. I was in shock. I know that sounds so silly…but it was true. I nodded my head…of course, if I was lost I wanted to be saved. But I was slightly confused. I thought he was going to help me sort this out? I thought he couldn’t tell me if I was saved or not?

So then he said, “You know what to do, don’t you? I don’t need to go through it with you” (Hind sight…I didn’t know what I needed to do. I was confused. He did exactly the same thing as the Vacation Bible School teacher did to me. Assume I understood. Assumed I knew all that there was to know. The only thing I “knew” was I was supposed to ask Jesus into my heart, to save me.) 

So I bowed my head, and asked Jesus to come into my heart. When I looked up, he was smiling, and said, “You meant that, didn’t you?” I nodded my head yes, in a confused state. Of course I meant it! Why wouldn’t I?

His wife grabbed me and gave me a big hug, and said she was so happy for me. They both said they couldn’t wait to tell the church on Sunday. I was so embarrassed! Here, I put on airs to those poor people in the church, making them think I was saved already, and now I need to tell them I wasn’t really, and just got saved? I was so nervous.

My mom, read me like a book and said, “I think she is afraid of what people will think of her, when everyone thought that she was saved.”

The pastor’s wife (who is very sweet really) said genuinely, “Oh they will be SO happy for you! They won’t think a thing of it!” That did make me feel a tad bit better.

I went out to our car still shocked. I got home, and got into bed, and had a hard time accepting I had just “got saved” that very night.

What I didn’t know, is that would not be the end of my “salvation issues”…it really was the beginning.

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4 Responses to The Confusion Starts….

  1. Sisterlisa says:

    oh gosh…those things happened in my old IFB church too. So annoying! They would NOT accept that I was already a believer until I had “become a Christian their way” and they promoted doubt as a coercive way to get us to follow their directives. Jesus already brought salvation in full. Period.

  2. Adrienne says:

    The truth is, salvation is not a one time event. We have been saved, are being saved, and may be saved in the future. To think other wise is presumptuous. You’re doing a good job of figuring most of this out yourself. Kudos…

  3. Bethany W. says:

    You have been through so much! I read your beginning posts then jumped to the recent ones. I wish I had time to read all of them, but I just can’t stay up late anymore. So, I am sneaking minutes at the computer while my kids play outside alone (they are quite safe).

    Thanks for your recent comment on my blog. I really had no idea (until after I posted my own story) that so many other women had been through similar experiences.

    I honestly don’t know how many people we will keep from falling into the same traps we did. I think one of the best reasons to share is that it ministers to other people who have been there and are still trying to cope.

    I have peace now. I have joy. I hope you have these too.
    Thanks again for finding me and leaving a comment on my blog.

    Bethany

  4. Leslie says:

    I was raised in a small Pentacostal church, and I too experienced great fear and doubt about my salvation, from about the age of nine till twelve or thirteen. I’ve never been quite sure of why–my mom’s never been the kind who instilled “fear of God” into us–she was raised Nazarene and hence, never quite agreed with everything taught in our church–so we’ve always been open and honest about these differences in our home. So my terror of God at that time, must have come from well-meaning “warnings” instilled in me through Sunday School–and by a sweet loving saint of God who truly thought (and still thinks) she is really just putting the feet of little children on the path to God. I now “help” in this Sunday School and am often horrified to hear her say things like this to 3 to 7 yr. olds (a wide age range that…). “But we got be pleasing to God, you got to do what’s right….you know if you take just one little penny and its not yours thats stealing, and that will keep you out of heaven…..” Well, okay that’s not the worst example. But it seems like there’s lot of DON’Ts pushed around, instead of the simple message of the cross: We’re all bad, Jesus died to save us, except that and LOVE HIM with all your heart….

    I’m sorry I didn’t mean for this to turn out so long! It’s just your post really touched a cord with me. I can’t forget the days and nights of absolute choking fear. I was afraid of God, I was afraid of dying, I was afraid of being bad….I would say the salvation prayer endlessly just in case the first time didn’t “take” or because I didn’t feel clean or “saved….”

    My breakthrough came when I was twelve or thirteen. God used to two different things to burst into my life, showing me the overwhelming love he had for me: The Chronicles of Narnia and Hammond Mill Bible Camp.

    I stumbled upon Narnia, hiding away in the lowest corner bookshelves of our town’s tiny library. Old MacMillan copies with b&w pictures and embossed hardcovers. By the end of LWW I was hooked. And as I journeyed through that world, the God I had known of but feared, and the lifeless picture I had of Jesus–I found myself falling vastly in love with Him through the form of Aslan the Lion! Of course, I then had doubts about whether this was even right…loving a fictional character, not the reality. But I slowly saw that it was just a journey. What I loved was just a reflection of the truth. I returned to the Bible to find a Lord who was not dusty and lifeless, but bursting with “not tame but good” wildness and sweetness that I had discovered in Aslan.

    Then bible camp camp and it gave me the chance to experience “Christianity” in a different setting–with young people and teen counselor’s who loved God with a vibrancy I’d never really witnessed before. I discovered praise and worship music, and for the first time felt at ease to sing and praise and worship with an abandon I had never felt able to do in my church–Pentacostal though it was. Yes, I see now, that God really did bring those two things into my life at that time for and express purpose. To help me find Him!

    I don’t know if this will help or bless anyone else. But it has really helped me to tonight to reminisce about it. Thank God for leading me to your blog!

    Sorry again for the length 🙂

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