MY PERSONAL TESTIMONY
I was born and raised by two loving, Christian parents. As a child, I faithfully attended church. I believed in my head everything I had ever been taught about Jesus (His Deity, His birth, life, crucifixion and resurrection, and so on). When I entered high school, my church attendance dwindled. When I entered college, I stopped going altogether.
It wasn't until my oldest son was about 3 years old that I began to feel a tug on my heart that God wanted more from my life than I had been willing to give Him. I visited church one day with my parents. This particular Sunday, there was a guest speaker from Campus Crusade for Christ. The speaker talked about how I could know and believe in my head all about Jesus yet still be destined for eternal separation from God, which is hell. He said that all my good deeds in the world could never earn me a place in heaven. He said I needed a personal relationship with God to be able to enter heaven. He said I needed to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord of the universe AND of my own life.
This man made an analogy between God's gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ and a pen. He said, "I am offering you this pen as a gift. There is nothing you can do to earn this gift. It is a present; BUT, you must reach out and accept my gift for it to become yours. In the same way, God offers each of us His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ; BUT, for the gift to be your own personal gift, you must reach out individually and accept the gift."
To accept God's gift of eternal life, I needed to be willing to turn away from myself and toward God; I needed to repent. I needed to ask God to help me follow His will and His way. I wasn't ready that day to give my whole life to Jesus. There was something still standing in the way between us -- money. I did not have much money, but a person doesn't need to have a lot of money to worship it.
I wanted things God never intended for me to have. My husband and I really wanted to own a house no matter the sacrifice. We got a house and paid a hefty sacrifice for it. Almost as soon as we bought the house, we could not afford both the mortgage payments and daily living expenses. Our debt escalated beyond our control.
By May of 1991, we were in big debt; we had a five-month old son and a 4-year old son to clothe, shelter and feed; and I had just been laid off from work. By September of 1991, I was desperate. My unemployment checks were running out, and my husband and I argued all the time about finances. I was a nervous wreck.
I went to bed one night after a full day of arguing about finances. I tossed and turned all night. I awoke at 3:00 a.m. (I remember looking at my clock) and began drowning in my thoughts of our financial situation. Suddenly, I recalled a Bible verse I had sitting on my desk downstairs:
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you,
and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart:
and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Matthew 11:28-30 KJV
When I recalled that verse, for the first time in my life I really talked to God. I remember telling God I was so sorry for the financial mess into which I had gotten my husband and myself. I told God I knew the mess wasn't His fault but asked Him to help us get out of the mess. I physically felt the burden be lifted from me. It was so incredible that I then asked God to forgive me for other messes I had made of my life (like not being a better mother and wife). Each burden was physically lifted from me as I prayed.
It was then that I heard, I really heard, God's voice tell me to ask Jesus into my heart. I questioned the voice ~ twice ~ but then simply prayed, "Jesus, I really do want You to come into my heart."
The very instant I said those words in both my mind and my heart, I physically felt the Holy Spirit come into my heart. From my toes to the top of my head, I felt immersed in pure, white light. I knew immediately that God had just saved me. Praise God, about a month-and-a-half after He saved me, He took my husband's heart of stone and turned it to a heart of flesh and saved him, too.
It is important for me to point out that when God saved us, He never promised to take away our financial problems. What He did do was promise to lead and guide us and help us through the problems. He kept His promise, even through our attempts to sell our house for three long years. We never did sell the house. In fact, after fruitlessly trying to sell the house, we were unable to continue paying our mortgage. We went bankrupt and lost the house to foreclosure. Still, God remained faithful to His promise to take care of our daily needs.