The Baptist Beacon
I was fourteen when I received the gift of salvation. It was, to the best of my recollection, a Friday night and I was at home in my bedroom. I was trying to go to sleep but there was trouble in my heart. I had attended revival service that night with my aunt at Greenfield Missionary Baptist Church and the sermon had stirred something within me. As the congregation sang a hymn of invitation I felt the need to go forward. I felt frightened and confused by the feelings I had. How could I be lost? I had claimed salvation years earlier at the age of six or seven.
It had been at another revival with a sermon similar to the one I had just heard. My heart had felt heavy and I remember going to the alter along with several of my friends. They were saved that night and I wanted to be saved too. I prayed as hard as a little child could but I still wasn't sure, then, after a while I felt a little better and believed that meant I must be saved. I joined the church and was baptized the following week.
Now here I was nearly ten years later and feeling terribly lost and ashamed. I didn't go to the altar that night. I felt that if I was lost then I had lied to the church and I could not bear to face them. I thought that service would never end and was happy to get home, but the troubled feeling in my heart did not go away. The more I thought about it the worse it got until I knew that if I died at that moment I was going to Hell. Conviction brought fear and fear got me out of bed and down on my knees. I prayed long and hard, asking for forgiveness and understanding. I begged the Lord to save my soul and promised to turn my life over to Him. He answered my prayers that night and I was filled with the most beautiful, peaceful feeling I have ever know. I said a prayer of thanks, climbed back in the bed and slept.
I attended church regularly after that but I rarely contributed much to the service. I wasn't keeping my end of the deal with God. He had saved my soul and He expected me to live my life for Him and do His works, starting with my testimony. I knew in my heart that I should tell the church about my salvation but that meant admitting that I wasn't really a member. Satan kept telling me just to keep my mouth shut, no need to tell, I had nothing to fear anymore, I was going to Heaven, the church thought I was already a member anyway, it wouldn't make any difference. God worked on me too, though, and told me that if I wanted to grow in His love and lead others to Him I would have to give my testimony. I battled with this dilemma for two years and began to avoid going to church. I was trying to run from God but, like Jonah, I couldn't find anywhere to hide.
Finally, I attended revival again with my aunt. I don't remember the sermon or even very much about the service, except that we were very near closing when one of the preachers, Bro. Watts, said that he felt the need to open the doors of the church. My heart pounded wildly as the preacher explained the requirements for membership. I felt as if every word was directed straight at me. The congregation began to sing, "Where He leads me, I will follow", my knees felt weak and my palms were sweating. God was telling me to go forward but Satan was screaming, "No! No!, stand still, stand still!" I made it through the first verse of the song and then I made it through the second verse and finally they stopped singing. Then one of the members requested that we sing just one more verse and the preacher begged us to follow our hearts. They began to sing the third verse and I couldn't take it anymore. I was absolutely sure that if I didn't go now I would never have another opportunity and that God would not need my anymore. Satan must have known he was beaten because he left the moment I stepped out into the aisle and I don't remember my feet touching the floor as I went to the front and hugged Bro. Watts. I told my story to the church and they cried and rejoiced with me and I felt free.
I was baptized again but this time I got more than just wet. Now, fifteen years later, I am still enjoying the fellowship of my brothers and sisters, as a "real" member of the church.