On February 5, 2017, I walked down the aisle at Hickory Ridge Baptist Church and completely surrendered my life to Jesus Christ. I wouldn't say my journey to Jesus has been a simple one, but looking back it's never been that complicated either.
If you have ever had doubts whether or not you have been saved or have ever been plagued with the "What if I'm not?" question of your salvation, I hope my story will speak to you and let you know you're not alone.
If there was a title for my testimony, it would be:
IT FINALLY CLICKED
From the time I was born, my mom has always taken me to church. The first time I said the sinner's prayer and baptized was in the 7th grade during a revival service at my church. However, I didn't truly surrender my life to Jesus as I should have. A year later, another revival came to our church and the preacher asked "do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that your name is written in the lamb's book of life?" And I couldn't answer a definite yes. I recommitted again that night and I remember my Sunday School teacher saying, "Cassie you can't recommit your life to Jesus every year." I re-committed because I didn't feel like I had been the Christian that I should have been. In high school and college, I was a good girl/good student, but I was not attending church regularly and began doing what I wanted to do more and more. I was still involved in the Baptist Student Union in college though and would go to church if someone asked me to go with them.
Fast forward to the end of 2015, I went back to the church I grew up in one Sunday morning thinking I was going to sit with my mom. She had nursery duty that morning so I sat there by myself and not one person spoke to me. I remember sitting there feeling absolutely invisible and how nothing the preacher said was getting through to me. I went home and told my mom that "I never wanted to go back to that church; the one I grew up in was like I had never been there at all." My mom responded with "I don't care where you go to church, just as long as you go somewhere."
After that, my friend Brooke asked me if I wanted to try Hickory Ridge Baptist Church with her - that she had gone the Sunday before and really liked it. I told her "sure" but I didn't expect much. The minute we got there, we were greeted and hugged and just loved on. Brother Terry preached that morning about being an Uncommon Giver and I could clearly understand everything he was talking about and I just knew something was different there. You know what? I wanted to go back, the next Sunday.
After attending HRBC for a few months, Brooke and I joined the church on April 4, 2016. Bro. Terry asked us if we had a personal relationship with Jesus and I kinda shook my head yes, but there was a small pit in my stomach that was like "do you really?" The same doubt I had all those years ago during the revivals in my junior high years hit me all over again.
After joining the church, I began a bible study with 3 of my closest girlfriends called, The Search for Significance, by Robert S. McGee. That study really opened my eyes and heart to understanding more about the love of God and how God wants us to know we are significant to Him, that he died for us and no matter what we do, HE is always going to love and pursue us - no matter what. But even after the study was over, I still had doubts about my salvation. The question kept popping up in my head at the most random times: What if I'm not? Have I ever truly surrendered? And I couldn't answer that question with a sincere yes.
At the beginning of January 2017, Brooke and I signed up for a 13 week bible study at the church called Experiencing God. From the first day of class, the main thing that kept coming up was RELATIONSHIP with Jesus, not RELIGION: not going to church, reading your bible here and there, going through the motions. It was about the relationship and do you have the relationship. A bible verse that really stuck out to me, was John 8:47. After a while of the question racking my brain and heart, I finally broke down and sent Bro. Terry an email and told him my story:
I am writing you today because as I'm taking this Experiencing God bible study I read today about how God speaks to his people. In John 8:47 it says "if you don't hear God, you do not belong to God" and all of a sudden, I'm doubting my salvation again.
I wrote my entire life story up to that point and I waited to hear back from him. I'll never forget his response, but i have his email saved (just in case):
i want to say thank you for reaching out to me. And i’ll start with the John 8:47 reference. We must be careful to understand it in light of context. In the flow of that passage Jesus was referencing the fact that the truth that Jesus was teaching they were not able to understand (hear) because they were not saved. You on the contrary have heard His words and even responded to them. One of two things are going on. 1) You responded with faith and repentance and just are not growing. You see our salvation and the assurance of our salvation are two different things. John said i write these things to you so that you may know that you have eternal life. If we are not reading and spending time in them we will not know or will have doubts. OR 2) You were never really saved. In which case the Spirit may be drawing you.
You can settle this by asking God to reveal it to you and drawing near to Him by spending time in His word, in prayer, in worship with His people, and in serving Him. In that time He will certainly show you. He loves you so very much and desires you to be rock solid in your faith. i am praying for you right now. Hope to worship with you tonight. Please let me know if you have any more questions.
After his email, I knew then that I just had to get real with God, pray and tell him how much I was done with doing everything my way and truly just let him take control, having faith and believing that I am saved - only through Jesus, nothing that I've done or ever will do can change that. I believe he died on the cross for me, rose again and washed away my sins with His blood.
On February 5, 2017, the invitation came again and I was still so hesitant to walk down the aisle because this would be my third time to do this. I remember bartering with God saying that I didn't want to be a hindrance to my friends that i rode with to church, so i would just come back that night and do it. Then, Brooke tapped me on the shoulder and said they were going down to join as a family. I said okay and stood there again. It was in that moment God was like, Okay Cass, what's your excuse now? you don't have any! Surrender to me!
So I walked. I had no clue what i was going to say when i got up to Bro. Terry and all that came out was "i was the one that emailed you last week" and he said Cassie? I said yes. He said, what are you wanting to do today and i started to tear up and said "i want it to be known that i am completely surrendering my life to Jesus. He asked me again, "what do you mean by that?" and i said, "i want Jesus to be in charge of my life; stop just going to church and living as a religion and start building an actual relationship."
I specifically remember Bro. Terry praying for what i needed most - that God would take the doubt away, that i would be sure that I am a child of God and my name is written in the Lamb's book of life. And you know what? The doubt did go away. There is a peace now that wasn't there before. I had to come to the realization on my own that it's a personal relationship with God - I always knew it up here in my head, but not here in my heart.
On March 26, 2017, I got baptized for the second time in my life, but I truly believe that it doesn't matter how many times you walk down the aisle, say the sinner's prayer, or attend church: one day it's just going to click that it's a daily relationship with Jesus and a daily walk/surrender to let Jesus be the Lord of your life. Once you realize that, everything changes. There is such a peace now that I didn't have before.
I cannot thank my mom enough for always taking me church and being the Godly woman that she is and to my best friend Brooke for inviting me to Hickory Ridge and for realizing that I needed to be more than just your 'church buddy'. Without the two of you, i doubt i would be sitting here writing this blog post.
I also want to thank my girlfriends who have spoken the word of God to me over and over again - I wouldn't be where I am today without each one of you.
If you get nothing else from this, please know that I'm not perfect and never will be, but i know now that i am a child of God. Jesus never stopped pursuing me, and he will never stop pursuing you either. If you have any doubts like i had about your salvation, i pray that my testimony speaks to you and shows that just because you went to church your whole life, doesn't mean you are saved.
It's a daily personal relationship with Jesus...
that's all that matters.
If you need prayer or just want to talk, please email me at email@example.com, i would absolutely love to hear from you.