After I moved to Kansas, there was an occasional Vacation Bible School; but, for the most part, not a whole lot of training. My mom did teach me to say the child's prayer, "Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. God bless Mommy. God bless Daddy. God bless John. God bless Grandma and Grandpa...." You get the idea. Let me tell you; I wasn't too keen on the "if I should die before I wake" part! It kept me just a little afraid of God.
For a little while after my mom and dad divorced, we went to church with one of my mom's friends. I went to the 6th grade Sunday School class. I remember feeling like I was so hopelessly behind that I'd never learn this Bible stuff. I also remember feeling like the preacher was looking right at me when he gave the sermon. I tried to slouch down and disappear behind the grown ups around me.
As I grew older, I grew in sin and in stature and became a teenager. I had more to be ashamed of than just the confession I'd made in that class that I hit my brother. The teacher had asked me to confess my sin when I asked Jesus into my little heart. Now, I'd said hateful words, seen things on tv and movies that were bad, had bad thoughts, hit my brother more. You get the idea. Every once in awhile, I'd go over to a friend's house, and her religious mother would have Billy Graham or someone else on t.v. talking about God. I remember feeling intensely ashamed and frightened of God. I knew that I was dirty with sin. I knew He could see what I'd done and knew what I thought. I didn't run to Him, though. I ran away.
God didn't give up. I'd find tracts with the way to salvation lying around in public places. I had to read them. I had to find a way to get rid of this guilt that was building up. Even so, I just didn't quite believe it would work. I just knew I was going to go to hell. I was still frightened.
Finally, on New Year's Day, 1980, I was watching the PTL Club show. Jim Bakker was interviewing a lady who had been a drug addict. She had turned to Jesus, had been saved, and had been delivered from her drug addiction. A lightbulb went on in my head and my heart. This woman had done stuff that was way worse than what I'd done. Isn't it like us to compare even our sins to others' to try to make ourselves feel better? Anyway, I finally had this revelation:
If God had forgiven this woman, surely He could forgive me, too.
So, when Jim Bakker lead the sinners' prayer, I asked Jesus to forgive me and asked Him into my heart. I became a Christian that day January 1, 1980. I asked my mom if we could go to church. I knew Christians were supposed to go to church. She wasn't interested at that time. So, I had to think of something else. I kept watching PTL on the little t.v. in my bedroom that Grandma Mamie and Grandpa Frank had given me. It was a great way to start the day.
Soon it was time to go back to school. I saw a girl on the bus, named Kim, who had always been nice to me, even when others were mean. I went up to her and asked her to take me to church with her. After she picked herself up off the floor of the bus (just kidding), she agreed to take me to her church. I got permission from my mom and went to Rolling Hills Christian Church with her. It didn't occur to me that there might be more than one kind of church. God just took care of me. The next Sunday, Pat, the lady who lived on the property behind our 3 acres, showed up at our door to take me to church. And the next Sunday and the next Sunday and the next Sunday! She came with bulldog tenacity! Good thing, too. I didn't have a chance to get away from God this time. ~smile~
A few weeks later, I went forward at concert with my friend Kim and Pat's daughter. I actually thought they wanted me to go up because they were afraid to go up themselves. Surprise surprise! A couple of weeks later I went forward at church to confess Jesus, be baptised, and join the church. That little country church family became my family. They were there for me during some really hard things. Ah, but that's another story for another day.
Friend, are you frightened of God? Do you think you're too bad? Too sinful? Too dirty? I did, too. We are all bad, sinful, and dirty. BUT GOD made a way for us to come to Him and become good, righteous, and clean. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He said Himself that He is the Way the Truth and the Life. No man comes to the Father except through Him.
Jesus paid the price for our sins by taking our punishment on the cross at Calvary. "If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." 1 John 1:9
We must run to God. We must confess. We must ask forgiveness. We must ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior. God is willing and able to forgive our sins. He wants us.
Are you willing?