My Ebenezers

I wrote this a few years ago and enjoy looking at it every now and then, reminding myself of things God has done. I thought I’d update and repost it again today.

Some of you might recall the line in the hymn “Come Thou Fount” which says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer — hither by Thy help I’m come,” and you might know that it echoes 1 Samuel 7:12: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” “Ebenezer” means “stone of help,” and it was not uncommon in Old Testament times for Israelites to set up a pile of stones for a monument marking God’s help. You can read more of the background on this story here.

A few years ago, Do Not Depart called for some modern day Ebenezer stories: those situations in your life when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the Lord who helped you, those seeming “coincidences” that you knew were really evidence of God’s hand at work. I wrote most of this out then and added a little to it. There are numerous encouragements in the Bible to remember what God has done, not only in His Word, but in our own lives: it reminds us of His care, power, and provision, and encourages us to pray, thank Him and trust Him in our current circumstances and for the future.

Here are a few of my Ebenezers:

  • A move during junior high led to a school that was extremely cliquish. Sometimes people toss that word around lightly when they’re feeling a little lonely, but this school had definite, well-defined cliques with very little interaction between them, and I didn’t seem to be accepted in any of them. I’d had a circle of friends before, so I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I had a crush on one guy in the most “cool” group, but of course he and that group were impossible dreams. In later years I found out it was God’s great mercy that kept me from getting “in” with that crowd as they were involved in a number of things that would have been detrimental to me.
  • When I was 15, my parents divorced. It had not been a happy home for years, but the break-up of a family still hurts deeply. Besides that, we were moving from our very small town to the teeming metropolis of Houston, I was leaving my friends and all that was familiar and going into the unknown right in the middle of high school.  I laid on my bed clinging for dear life to Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Even though I had only a surface understanding of that verse then, God honored that faith and fulfilled His Word. As a result of all those changes I began seeking Him earnestly, God led to a Christian school and a good church, I heard about the college where I would one day attend and find my husband.
  • After we moved, when we visited the high school I was to attend, I was convinced I could never go there for various reasons. We didn’t know what the alternatives could be, but we saw an ad for a Christian school. We visited and interviewed, and I wanted to go, but my parents could not afford the tuition. One day we drove to the school to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come. My mom went in, and I stayed in the car. The pastor and his wife drove up, saw me, and came over and told me someone offered to pay my way that year, and someone anonymously did the next year as well. It was through this school and church that I got stabilized in my faith in Christ and grounded in His Word.
  • My parents could not pay for college, either, but through various means God got me through five years at a Christian university. Lots of Ebenezers there! But one stands out: an offering from my Sunday School class at my home church allowed me to buy some necessities like deodorant and toothpaste. Coming back to my dorm room, I heard our hall was having a party and everyone was asked to contribute a dime for ice cream and toppings. I had literally only one dime left. As I gave it, I began to feel panicky about not having any money at all to my name. Then God reminded me of the offering just given. He was taking care of me in big and small ways.
  • One Christmas Eve morning shortly after our first anniversary, we were driving from SC, where we lived, to visit my family in TX. Our car broke down near Biloxi, MS. It was an old German car called an Opel, and when we’d had problems with it before, it took weeks to fix because the parts were hard to find. I had no idea how everything was going to work out, how we’d get home and then get back to get the car, etc. My husband found a phone booth (no cell phones in those days), and found a random mechanic with a tow truck in the yellow pages. He explained the problem and then said something like, “By the way, it’s an Opel, so it might be a problem to get parts for it.” The mechanic answered, “No problem — we just bought out the local Opel dealership.”
  • I could heap up a whole pile of Ebenezers from my experience with transverse myelitis, but I’ll share just one: when I was scheduled for an MRI, everybody kept asking me if I was claustrophobic. I wasn’t sure (nowadays I would say, “YES!”), but their questions were making me nervous. I was told that I would have to be very still for the procedure, which would last the better part of an hour. The day before, in my Daily Light on the Daily Path devotional book, all the verses were about being still. A few of them: Ruth 3:18: Sit still, my daughter; Psalm 46: 10: Be still, and know that I am God; Psalm 4:4: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still (more are here). Those verses kept running through my mind while I was in the MRI machine, and God kept me very calm: I even dozed off.
  • For years my husband had to travel quite a bit. At first I was a total basket case beset by fears, but God gradually enabled me to cope. Three years ago I wrote a post about coping when a husband is away, and it has become one of my most viewed posts in 10 years of blogging. Though at first I inwardly whined and wailed about having to be alone so much, I am thankful to be able to testify of God’s grace and help and to be able to encourage other ladies in the same situation.
  • When my son was planning to be married in OK and we were making plans to drive there and back from SC, my husband planned to rent a U-Haul there in OK to bring back our new daughter-in-law’s furniture and the wedding presents. But U-Haul wouldn’t rent to him because someone with his type of car had sued them once before because of some problem. We couldn’t find any other rental options in OK, so we ended up having to rent a trailer from a local business and take it with us there and back. Everything was fine on the return trip until the trailer blew a tire. I don’t even remember where we were at the time — some stretch of Interstate between cities. We tried calling AAA, but they don’t deal with tires on rental trailers. Thankfully my oldest son had a data plan on his phone and looked up local businesses and found a Wal-Mart a few exits up. But we’d have to unhitch the trailer and leave it while we went for the tire. I remember looking out the window and praying that my kids would see God’s hand in this. We were nervous about leaving the trailer there alone, but we also didn’t want to leave any one of us alone to guard it while everyone else went to Wal-Mart. I was praying fervently that no one would break into it and steal any of my son’s and daughter-in-law’s things. When we went to Wal-Mart, they were just closing their tire service center and didn’t really want to let us in, but we explained the situation, and they did. Meanwhile we got a call from our newly-married son, on his way East on his honeymoon trip: “Dad…did you leave the trailer on the side of the road?” They were passing by just at that time and saw it. We explained what had happened, and they circled back to stay with the trailer while we got the new tire, then we went back, put the new tire on, and went to get something to eat together. Though it’s a bit unconventional to go out to eat with one’s parents on one’s honeymoon, there were so many evidences on God’s hand at work in this situation: if we had rented a generic trailer, Jason would not have recognized it as the one we had and wouldn’t have called about it; if they hadn’t been passing that way at that time, they wouldn’t have seen it; if we had been even a few minutes later, we wouldn’t have gotten into Wal-Mart, and as our other calls hadn’t led to any other options, we would have had to spend the night in town and leave the trailer out on the Interstate all night.
  • Our precious grandson, Timothy, was born 10 1/2 weeks premature and spent all of that time in the NICU. Sometimes God’s provision isn’t one big miraculous deliverance, but the grace and strength to endure the ups and downs of a long trial. We all felt His hand a number of times through those weeks, often through people who ministered to us in various ways.

There have been so many other situations…wrecks narrowly averted, running late and coming upon the scene of an accident that might have been mine if I’d been on time, financial needs met right at the needed time, finding something that was lost after earnest prayer about it, praying for wisdom and receiving it, a word of encouragement at just the right moment, help for a task that was too big for me, something from the Word that was just exactly what I needed for the day. I am so thankful for His loving, intimate, wonderful care!!

 Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.
Psalm 109:26-27

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
    and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
 when I remember you upon my bed,
    and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
 for you have been my help,
    and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
 My soul clings to you;
    your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63:5-8

(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Literary Musing Monday, Testimony Tuesday)

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Here I Raise My Ebenezer

Some of you might recall the line in the hymn “Come Thou Fount” which says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer — hither by Thy help I’m come,” and you might know that it echoes 1 Samuel 7:12: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us.’” You can read more of the background on this story here.

Do Not Depart is calling for some modern day Ebenezer stories: those situations in your life when you knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was the Lord who helped you, those seeming “coincidences” that you knew were really evidence of God’s hand at work.

Here are a few of my Ebenezers:

  • A move during junior high led to a school that was extremely cliquish. Sometimes people toss that word around lightly when they’re feeling a little lonely, but this school had definite, well-defined cliques with very little interaction between them, and I didn’t seem to be accepted in any of them. I’d had a circle of friends before, so I wasn’t sure what the problem was. I had a crush on one guy in the most “cool” group, but of course he and that group were impossible dreams. In later years I found out it was God’s great mercy that kept me from getting “in” with that crowd as they were involved in a number of things that would have been detrimental to me.
  • When I was 15, my parents divorced. It had not been a happy home for years, but the break-up of a family still hurts deeply. Besides that, we were moving from our very small town to the teeming metropolis of Houston, I was leaving my friends and all that was familiar and going into the unknown right in the middle of high school, and I was told I would not be allowed to contact my friends or relatives for a while because my mom was afraid of my father finding us and what he would do if he did. I laid on my bed clinging for dear life to Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Even though I had only a surface understanding of that verse, God honored that faith and fulfilled His Word. As a result of all those changes I began seeking Him earnestly, God led to a Christian school and a good church, I heard about the college where I would one day attend and find my husband.
  • After we moved, when we visited the high school I was to attend, I was convinced I could never go there for various reasons. We didn’t know what the alternatives could be, but we saw an ad for a Christian school. We visited and interviewed, and I wanted to go, but my parents could not afford the tuition. One day we drove to the school to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come. My mom went in, and I stayed in the car. The pastor and his wife drove up, saw me, and came over and told me someone offered to pay my way that year, and someone anonymously did the next year as well. It was through this school and church that I got stabilized in my faith in Christ and grounded in His Word.
  • My parents could not pay for college, either, but through various means God got me through five years at a Christian university. Lots of Ebenezers there! But one stands out: an offering from my Sunday School class at my home church allowed me to buy some necessities like deodorant and toothpaste. Coming back to my dorm room, I heard our hall was having a party and everyone was asked to contribute a dime for ice cream and toppings. I had literally only one dime left. As I gave it, I began to feel panicky about not having any money at all to my name. Then God reminded me of the offering just given. He was taking care of me in big and small ways.
  • One Christmas Eve morning shortly after our first anniversary, we were driving from SC, where we lived, to visit my family in TX. Our car broke down near Biloxi, MS. It was an old German car called an Opel, and when we’d had problems with it before, it took weeks to fix because the parts were hard to find. I wasn’t sure how everything was going to work out now, how we’d get home and then get back to get the car, etc. My husband found a phone booth (no cell phones in those days), and found a random mechanic with a tow truck in the yellow pages. He explained the problem and then said something like, “By the way, it’s an Opel, so it might be a problem to get parts for it.” The mechanic answered, “No problem — we just bought out the local Opel dealership.”
  • I could heap up a whole pile of Ebenezers from my experience with transverse myelitis, but I’ll share just one: when I was scheduled for an MRI, everybody kept asking me if I was claustrophobic. I wasn’t sure (nowadays I would say, “YES!”), but their questions were making me nervous. I was told the day before that I would have to be very still for the procedure, which I think lasted the better part of an hour. The day before, in my Daily Light on the Daily Path devotional book, all the verses were about being still. A few of them: Ruth 3:18: Sit still, my daughter; Psalm 46: 10: Be still, and know that I am God; Psalm 4:4: Commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still (more are here). Those verses kept running through my mind while I was in the MRI machine, and God kept me very calm: I even dozed off.
  • When my son was planning to be married in OK and we were making plans to drive there and back from SC, my husband planned to rent a U-Haul there in OK to bring back our new daughter-in-law’s furniture and the wedding presents. But U-Haul wouldn’t rent to him because someone with his type of car had sued them once before because of some problem. We couldn’t find any other rental options in OK, so we ended up having to rent a trailer from a local business and take it with us there and back. Everything was fine on the return trip until the trailer blew a tire. I don’t even remember where we were at the time — some stretch of Interstate between cities. We tried calling AAA, but they don’t deal with tires on rental trailers. Thankfully my oldest son had a data plan on his phone and looked up local businesses and found a Wal-Mart a few exits up. But we’d have to unhitch the trailer and leave it while we went for the tire. I remember looking out the window and praying that my kids would see God’s hand in this. We were nervous about leaving the trailer there alone, but we also didn’t want to leave any one of us alone to guard it while everyone else went to Wal-Mart. I was praying fervently that no one would break into it and steal any of my son’s and daughter-in-law’s things. When we went to Wal-Mart, they were just closing their tire service center and didn’t really want to let us in, but we explained the situation, and they did. Meanwhile we got a call from our newly-married son, on his way East on his honeymoon trip: “Dad…did you leave the trailer on the side of the road?” They were passing by just at that time and saw it. We explained what had happened, and they circled back to stay with the trailer while we got the new tire, then we went back, put the new tire on, and went to get something to eat together. Though it’s a bit unconventional to go out to eat with one’s parents on one’s honeymoon, there were so many evidences on God’s hand at work in this situation: if we had rented a generic trailer, Jason would not have recognized it as the one we had and wouldn’t have called about it; if they hadn’t been passing that way at that time, they wouldn’t have seen it; if we had been even a few minutes later, we wouldn’t have gotten into Wal-Mart, and as our other calls hadn’t led to any other options, we would have had to spend the night in town and leave the trailer out on the Interstate all night.

There have been so many other situations…wrecks narrowly averted, running late and coming upon the scene of an accident that might have been mine if I’d been on time, financial needs met right at the needed time, finding something that was lost after earnest prayer about it, praying for wisdom and receiving it, a word of encouragement at just the right moment, something from the Word that was just exactly what I needed for the day. I am so thankful for His loving, intimate, wonderful care!!

 Help me, O Lord my God: O save me according to thy mercy:
That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it.
Psalm 109:26-27

Flashback Friday: Early Religious Experiences

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site.

The question for this week is:

Did your family attend church when you were growing up? What are your earliest memories of church? Did you attend VBS (Vacation Bible School) when you were young? Sunday School? Other church activities? Was faith a Sunday-only thing or did it impact your life and the things you did? If faith and church were not a part of your growing-up years, when and how did you begin and what drew you to God?

I did not grow up in a Christian home. My father never went to church then, and my mother only occasionally did. My mother’s sister and father attended a Lutheran church, and my parents let me attend with them. I do remember learning basic truths and Bible stories and learning in a general way that Jesus Christ died for my sins, but how to actually believe in a way to know that one was a Christian was kind of nebulous idea of having faith of some kind. I don’t remember it ever being brought to a personal level that I as an individual needed to repent of my own sins and trust Christ as my own Savior.

I do remember enjoying Sunday School and VBS. I enjoyed the crafts, singing, activities, Bible stories, and cookies and Kool-aid. 🙂  I only have a few specific memories: one was a craft we made that involved putting one glass upside down over another one with flowers inside and gluing it. I thought it was so pretty and gave it to my grandmother. I do remember gluing macaroni to a box and spray-painting it gold, but I don’t remember if that was VBS or Girl Scouts (what was the deal with macaroni crafts back then?!) I remember hearing in Sunday School teaching on the verse “Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” (Matthew 6: 24-26) and thinking at the time that that was ridiculous. Money problems were frequent at our house, and I thought, how could you not worry about it? I had a lot to learn about faith, and these verses became precious to me in college years and beyond. I also remember feeling bad one time that I had nothing to put in the offering, so I drew or wrote something on a piece of paper — I can’t remember if it was a drawing of money or an IOU of some sort — and put it in when the offering plate was passed. But my cousin’s grandmother — the one on the other side of her family through which we were not related — was a very well-to-do and proper lady and took my piece of paper out. That made me so sad, that I had given the only thing I could, and it wasn’t deemed acceptable. As an adult looking back, I think the ushers would probably have gotten a kick out of finding that in the offering.

When I was in about the third grade, my best friend at the time invited me to revival services at her Baptist church. My parents did not let me go to every religious event I was invited to (thankfully!), but my dad’s folks were Baptist on one side and Methodist on the other, and my mom’s, as I mentioned, were Lutheran, so they usually let me go to those churches if asked. On the second or third night I attended, the pastor was talking about being “saved.” My friend and another of her friends urged me to go forward at the invitation at the end of the service, so I did, but in later years I couldn’t remember what was said or prayed or who I even talked to.

So I struggled for many years with exactly where I stood with the Lord, and it wasn’t really settled until I was about 17. I’ve told this in more detail in my testimony. Then I still struggled with assurance for many years, but I am happy to say I am at rest in Him now.

As far as faith impacting daily life, my parents had something of a “God-fearing” upbringing, and though neither of them wanted to bring their lives under God’s influence and authority at that time, they wanted their children to be taught about Him and to “do right” (my dad did come to salvation later in his 60s: I have told his story here. Though my mom did not make a clear and open profession, I have reason to hope she believed as well, as I discussed here.) My dad’s two biggest issues were respect and obedience, and I think that and what religious training I did have gave me a good foundation and prepared me for learning more later on. I did have kind of an awe and respect and a childish affection for the Lord, but without a lot of discernment: if anyone from mentioned God, I thought that was so neat, not realizing that not everyone who talks about Him knows Him. I am so glad God protected me from cultist influences when I was vulnerable and naive enough to probably have been taken in by them.

I had thought my mother’s family has always been Lutheran, but a few years ago my aunt told me that her father, my grandfather, had been raised by an uncle who was a “circuit-riding preacher” (like Sheffey, for those familiar with him), and my grandfather had helped him in some of his campaigns when he was a boy. That was neat to learn about. I hadn’t thought I had ancestors who prayed for me beyond my own grandparents, so it’s neat to think that maybe even further back there were relatives who knew the Lord and prayed for their descendants. It will be nice to meet them in heaven!

Time Travel Tuesday: Salvation Edition



My Life as Annie hosts Time Travel Tuesday in which we look back at some time in our lives in relation to the topic of the week. Annie asks, ”
This week I decided we should revisit our time of salvation, or a special time in your spiritual life. Was there a moment when you became a Christian, or did it take a while? Can you remember that special time in your life?”

My testimony was one of the first posts on my blog, and when I figured out how to make “pages” (listed across the top of my blog), I made a page for that there so that people who visited could easily see it and click on it if they wanted to, because one of my desires in making a blog was to be a witness to people. I thought about writing a shorter version here, but since I thought it through carefully and wrote it out there, if you don’t mind, I am going to refer you there: here’s the link.

Dear Me in 1973

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Dear Me in 1973,

I see you lying on your bed that summer day, between your sophomore and junior years of high school, at what you feel is the lowest point in your life. Your parents have separated and your mom has moved you and your brother and sisters from the tiny town you lived in to the big metropolis of Houston. You’re grieving over the break-up of your family, the move away from all your friends and all that is familiar, the seemingly impossible situation with your father’s anger and alcoholism, the rift in the close relationship you’ve always had with your mother, and the awkwardness of trying to figure out how to relate to the man who will become your step-father. You’re lying on your bed clinging to Roman’s 8:28 for dear life. If I could encourage you in only one thing, it would be to always do that, always cling to God and His Word, to anchor your soul there when the waves of life come crashing over you. You don’t even really fully know what Romans 8:28 means just yet, but you don’t realize it: you do know that you love God in the best way you know how at this time and that He promised to somehow work out all things together for good for those who love Him. He will. There has “not failed one word of all his good promise” (I Kings 8:56).

Don’t resent the loneliness of this time and the responsibilities of being “the oldest” and the “built-in baby-sitter.” God has a purpose in this as well. You’re learning character that will stand you in good stead for years to come. You’re vulnerable and would possibly get into all kinds of trouble if you were allowed to run loose. You proved that possibility by some of the really dumb things you did this year, the only year you were tempted to walk on the wild side. What were you thinking? That just because the rest of your world seemed to be going crazy that you could, too? You’ll realize later that God protected you from so much that could have happened this past year, and His “hemming you in” now is not only keeping you from harm and from major life disasters, but it is giving you time to contemplate, to think, to seek, to pray, time that you might not have spent that way if you had the distractions of friends and amusements that most consider normal for that age.

I can tell you that things do turn a corner in just a few months. God miraculously leads you to a Christian school and provides for you to attend even though your parents can’t afford it. Through the school you’ll attend the church it is affiliated with. You’ve sporadically attended different churches here and there, but now you’ll get under regular Biblical instruction. Your new pastor will encourage his congregation to read the Bible through, you start what will become a habit that will change your life. You get grounded. You’ve struggled with whether the profession of faith you expressed when you were 8 was real and thorough and, though you probably struggle with it much longer than you need to, you will finally come to full assurance from God’s Word that He has saved you and brought you into His family when you asked His forgiveness and believed on His Son.

Your relationship with your mother is restored and you become closer than ever. You learn from the Bible that respect can be based on obedience to God and a person’s God-appointed position in your life even when their actions don’t invite respect, and what’s more, you’ll learn (or begin to — it’s a life-long lesson) to love and have compassion on other people in spite of faults and failings, just as God does you. Years later that father whom you thought would be the hardest to reach and the last one to be saved does come to finally know the Lord. Your mom, though there is not one obvious moment that you can point to as a conversion, experiences a change of heart that causes you to believe and hope that she truly did come to faith in the quietness of her own heart. You will lose her much sooner that you’ll be ready to: stay in touch, call often, treasure each moment. Don’t be so ready to begin the grand adventure of your adult life that you forget to keep close contact with those at home.

I wish I could forewarn you away from that four-year attachment to that young man. I think the Lord may have had a purpose in in the beginning — you start working at a grocery store a few months after you moved where there are all kinds of teen-age guys, unsaved guys, and you had little instruction and not much sense about dating. You always were too boy-crazy. Even when you were two your parents said you were “in love” with your cousin. 🙄 It may be that having a boyfriend kept you from getting into a worse situation with some of those guys. But it is not healthy and it goes on way too long. You’re still afflicted with the “cave-man” view of love, that love comes and bops you on the head and drags you off and whoever you “fall in love with” is the one for you despite all kinds of warning signs. Thankfully you’ll feel the Lord wants you in college, which delays a right-out-of-high school wedding (what a disaster that would have been!) And later when you have had some instruction and you’re a little more mature and you begin to seek the Lord’s will in this area of your life, you’ll see this relationship is all wrong. There will be another lonely spell, but be patient! You’ll still have a lot to learn and a lot of growing to do. In this area, as in others, you come to a point of trusting God’s leadership rather than striving after fulfillment your own way.

You want to go to college, but you don’t see how it will possibly work. There’s no money at all — your folks are doing all they can do to take care of you and your five siblings. But God will lead and provide in miraculous ways. You’ll love it: meeting new people, being stimulated in your faith, your thinking, your imagination. There will be some painful spots as you continue to develop the character you need and as you grow. When you are unable to get a job first semester and are advised to try the library second semester, as you sit down to take the entrance test, you really don’t know how you will handle a job in addition to your classes, and you pray for the Lord’s will to be done in whether you get the job or not. Years later you learn that they don’t really have a need for another student worker right at that time, but the man who interviews you feels sorry for you and hires you. The Lord works in mysterious ways, for that’s where you first meet Jim and become friends. Friendship leads to interest and interest lead to…well, I’ll let you be surprised. 🙂

Throughout your childhood when you dreamed of what you wanted to be when you grew up, the possibilities of writer, teacher, and psychiatrist all were considered (as well as being a movie star, which idea was wisely tossed aside). Even amidst all the other possibilities, you always wanted to be a wife and mother, and the Lord fulfills that desire, with a bit of the others mixed in (all mothers are to some degree teachers and psychiatrists. 🙂 ).

When health issues come up later on, the lessons of faith and dependence on God that you learn along the way will stand you in good stead, and you find yourself once again clinging to Him in faith when another of life’s waves rolls over you.

You will know by experience as well as by faith that God keeps His promises and has a purpose in everything He allows. Keep clinging, in good times and bad.

Love,

Me in 2007.

(To be part of the Dear Me project, go here. Thanks to Shannon and Mary for their stories and for alerting us to it.)

What’s the Shape of Your Faith: God’s Thumbprints

In the continuing series, “What’s the Shape of Your Faith,” Heather’s question for us this week has to do with those times in life when God has done something specific, something that was obviously just from Him. All Christians have moments like that, whether they are the big dramatic moments or the everyday manna of God’s blessing. Heather calls them “God’s thumbprints.” I like that. 🙂

I’ve been excited about this since I first read of it. Here are just a few:

  • My family moved to a new small town before I started the eighth grade. I had never had trouble making friends before, but that particular school was the most cliquish place I have ever seen. I don’t know how many weeks I spent walking around the grounds at lunch time by myself. Every morning I would beg my mom not to make me go to school and she would practically have to push me out of the car. I’m not sure how long this went on — it seems like months, but it may have been just a few weeks — but finally I became friends with one other girl who was also outside any of the established groups. It was a lonely and painful time in my life, but there are things God wants to teach us in those times. I didn’t see God’s specific thumbprint in the situation, however, until years later when I heard about some of the things that those who I admired and wanted to be “in” with (yea, even had a crush on 🙂 ) were into. I was shocked. Then I saw the Lord’s mercy in keeping me from close friendships with those people. That was a vulnerable and unstable time in my life because it was the time my parents’ marriage was in its final stages. That was the era I did things for which I am ashamed now: who knows how much worse that would have been if I had been close friends with people who would have led me farther astray.
  • I mentioned this in my testimony, but when we moved to another town before I started the eleventh grade, we interviewed at a Christian school. I really wanted to go, but we couldn’t afford the tuition. We drove to the school again to tell them that I would not be able to go after all. My mom went inside while I stayed in the car. The pastor and his wife drove up, saw me, came over and told me someone had paid my way to go to school that year. Someone did the same for my senior year. It was at that school and then through the church the school was under that I got under regular consistent teaching, made sure of my salvation, formed the basics of my convictions, got grounded in the faith, heard about the Christian university I would later attend, and so much more.
  • My parents were not able to help me attend college. I had one scholarship from my Christian school for I think maybe $1,000. I determined every year that if I had the money for the first month’s tuition, I would go and trust God for the rest. Working every summer, I was always able to have at least enough to start, but not enough to go very far. Many times over the years I found a note from the business office in my post office box saying that an anonymous donor had applied money to my account. One semester when I was particularly low in funds, I felt it was presumptious to go to school that way and I should probably plan to stay out a semester and work. Though I did not broadcast my plans, I received notes and checks from people at church urging me to stay in school. I remember one time in particular when my Sunday School class back home took up an offering and sent it to me. It came at just the right time, and I went to the store to buy deodorant and other necessities. I ended up with one dime. When I got back to the dorms, someone told me we were having a hall party that night and they were collecting a dime from every girl on the hall for refreshments. As I gave away my last dime, I had a moment of panic being totally and literally without a dime to my name. Then the Lord reminded me of what He had just done by sending money for my necessities and reminded me to trust Him about every need. Even with all of that, though, I had a pretty big debt accumulated at the end of my college career. (In fact, my husband used to sometimes jokingly refer to our wedding as that happy day when we consolidated our debts. 🙂 ) I struggled with that — the Lord had provided so much, had I not had enough faith to take care of all of it? My husband reminded me that sometimes the Lord provides miraculously through other means, but most often He supplies by giving us work to do to provide money to pay our debts.
  • Just after our first anniversary, my husband and I were driving from SC to Texas to spend Christmas with my folks. On Christmas Eve morning, our car broke down just outside of Biloxi, Mississippi. Our car was a little German Opel that my brother had nicknamed Gustav. We had had trouble with Gustav before, and it was always hard to find parts for it. In fact, one time it had taken four weeks for the needed part to come in. That was in the back of my mind as I silently wondered what we were going to do, how long we would be stranded, how would we get either on to Texas or back to SC — and how we would pay for it as we had no resources, no savings, not even a credit card. I don’t remember for sure but we must have walked somewhere to call for a tow truck because there were no cell phones back then. My husband just picked a mechanic with a towing service out of the yellow pages and called, explained our situation, and mentioned that we had an Opel. The man responded, “Oh, that’s fine. We just bought out an Opel dealership and have a lot of parts on site.” They towed us in, and even though they had closed at noon, one mechanic stayed and worked on our car. I don’t even remember what was wrong with it, but they had the part we needed. I called my mom to let her know we were delayed, and she offered her credit card to pay for it, which the mechanic accepted over the phone. We were amazed at God leading us to just the right mechanic with a random pick from the phone book, and what could have been a long, drawn out ordeal was taken care of in short order!
  • When my second son, Jason was born, he had not one but two knots in his umbilical cord. I hate to think what would have happened if either of those knots had been tight enough to cut off the oxygen and food supply he needed, and I thank God for protecting him through whatever gymnastics he had performed to cause those knots. 🙂
  • After I came down with transverse myelitis, so often I felt that I could serve the Lord so much better without the residual effects of it and asked the Lord many time to remove them. He did provide a great deal of recovery (and after I found out more information about it, I realized it could have been so much worse, and He had indeed limited that trial), but there were still symptoms which affected my everyday life that dismayed me. Yet I did see how He worked in and through it, both in teaching me further dependence on Him and in using me to encourage others. Not long ago I came across a devotional by Elisabeth Elliot about how God uses limitations to shape our ministry — that was a new thought to me which greatly ministered to me and helped me to see the TM in a new light.

There have been so many other little everyday instances of the Lord’s intervention and provision: safety during near collisions in the car, finding something that was lost after earnest prayer about it, praying for wisdom and receiving it, a word of encouragement at just the right moment, something from the Word that was just exactly what I needed for the day. I am so thankful for His loving, intimate, wonderful care!!

You can find other stories of God’s thumbprints or add your own here.

Blessed Assurance

I mentioned in my testimony of how the Lord brought me to Himself that I had struggled off and on for long years with the assurance that I was really saved. One person in particular mentioned wanting to hear more about that, so for her and for anyone else who might be struggling with this (or for those who want to help someone struggling with this) I wanted to share how the Lord helped me over the years.

I don’t think I ever struggled with the thought that I had lost my salvation. I think Scripture is pretty clear that once you’re “born again” you don’t get unborn. My struggle was more internal on my end of things.

I think there were a number of reasons for that. I had made a profession when I was 8 or 9 and then wasn’t in church or reading my Bible regularly, so therefore I wasn’t taught or grounded very well. When I did get back into church and began reading my Bible and began to examine whether I was truly saved, I couldn’t remember very well what had actually happened or what I was thinking or feeling or understanding at that time back when I was 8 or 9. Even some who are spiritually well-grounded and taught struggle over that. Then, I tend to be a analytical — maybe too much so at times.

I know that the devil can use a lack of assurance to trip people up and almost cripple them spiritually, both from a loss of confidence (“How can I tell anyone else how to be saved if I’m not sure if I am?”) and from a preoccupation with these thoughts and issues instead of going on in the Lord. But it is such an important issue, I certainly didn’t want to brush off doubts as just coming from the devil. I think it certainly is possible for a well-meaning person to make a false profession for any numbers of reasons (trusting in something outward like a walk down the aisle or raising the hand or even praying a prayer rather than in the Lord Himself, responding to “positive peer pressure” instead of the Lord’s conviction, not being instructed very well by the person telling them about the Lord, and so on) and I’ve heard testimonies of people who thought they were saved for years but then realized they were not. For years every testimony like that shook me up and caused me to re-examine my faith and fear that I had missed it somehow. Many agressive sermons did the same thing. I do know the experience of coming home to an empty house or waking up to find my husband not in bed or hearing the Christian radio station unexpectedly go off the air and wondering if the rapture had occurred and I hadn’t gone to heaven. It’s a miserable way to live, let me tell you.

I did seek counsel several times, and it was all very helpful and made me feel settled for a time. But before long the old doubts or some new ones would creep in.

It did help me to learn that others did struggle with this, even prominent Christians whose salvation no one else would doubt. Somewhere along the way I discovered John Bunyan’s Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. I think I read somewhere that some pastors didn’t want their people reading that book, because if they hadn’t doubted their salvation before, they might after reading it. It’s been so long since I read it that I don’t remember the details, but I was encouraged that someone such as Bunyan struggled with some of the same things.

Here, then, are some of the particular issues I struggled with and how the Lord graciously helped me with them.

1) The “Right” words

If you think of it, we express salvation in many ways: being born again, having our sins forgiven, having our sins put under the blood, being on the straight and narrow road, etc., etc. Sometimes I’d hear a particular phrase and think, “Oh, no! I don’t know if I thought of that or mentioned that when I prayed.” Then I’d pray that particular phrase (i.e., “Dear Lord, please put my sins under the blood.”) (I know, it sounds a little neurotic, doesn’t it?)

What I had to come to realize is that salvation is not a “magic formula” of certain words. The “sinner’s prayer” is a fine thing, but one can be saved without praying those exact lines (look at the thief on the cross beside Christ for one example).

There was one incident that helped me most with this particular issue. To help you fully appreciate it, I need to give you a little bit of background, though it will make a long post even longer. 🙂 There was a certain program on the local Christian radio station that I enjoyed listening to. Right after that program came a radio preacher that I thought of as “ranting and raving.” If his intro. music came on, I’d disgustedly turn the radio off as fast as I could get to it. One day I got convicted that that attitude of disgust was not right toward any Christian, especially a man of God. He was a good man, preached the truth, and had been used by the Lord to bring many to Himself. It was just a matter of not liking his style, but I realized that that style might appeal to someone else who might not be reached by the style of preaching that appealed to me. So, one day when the program I like finished and this man’s program came on, I left it on. This preacher was sharing his own testimony, and at some point he said something like, “I told the Lord I didn’t even know what or how to pray….” and then went on to express his desire to be saved, though I can’t remember now how he put it. But that one phrase “clicked” with me and reinforced to me that it is not certain words that save us, it is faith in Christ.

2) “Enough” repentance

Repentance is vital in salvation and many are rightly concerned that in this day of “easy believism” it’s a forgotten element. I’ve heard repentance defined many times as a change of mind that leads to a change of action. I felt that I had done that, changed from depending on “my” works to Christ’s finished work on the cross, changed from wanting “my way” to wanting God’s way, but maybe because as believers we still have a sin nature residing in us, and I still struggled in some areas, I often wondered if I had really repented “enough” to be saved.

My mother-in-law is as much or more of a book lover than I am, and when we visit each other we peruse each other’s shelves for books to read while we’re there. Once when we were visiting my husband’s folks, I found the book Full Assurance by H. A. Ironside on her shelf and picked it up. The whole book was very helpful, but the one part that I felt was the written just for me was in the second part of the book, “Difficulties Which Hinder Full Assurance.” The very first question dealt with was “How may I be sure that I have repented enough?” Here is Ironside’s answer:

Very often the real difficulty arises from a misapprehension of the meaning of repentance. There is no salvation without repentance, but it is important to see exactly what is meant by this term. It should not be confused with penitence, which is sorrow for sin; nor with penance, which is an effort to make some satisfaction for sin; nor yet with reformation, which is turning from sin. Repentance is a change of attitude toward sin, toward self, and toward God. The original word (in the Greek Testament) literally means “a change of mind.” This is not a mere intellectual change of viewpoint, however. but a complete reversal of attitude.

Now test yourself in this way. You once lived in sin and loved it. Do you now desire deliverance from it? You were once self-confident and trusting in your own fancied goodness. Do you now judge yourself as a sinner before God? You once sought to hide from God and rebelled against His authority. Do you now look up to Him, desiring to know Him, and to yield yourself to Him? If you can honestly answer yes to these questions, you have repented. Your attitude is altogether different to what it once was.

You confess you are a sinner, unable to cleanse your own soul, and you are willing to be saved in God’s way. This is repentance. And remember, it is not the amount of repentance that counts: it is the fact that you turn from self to God that puts you in the place where His grace avails through Jesus Christ.

Strictly speaking, not one of us has ever repented enough. None of us has realized the enormity of our guilt as God sees it. But when we judge ourselves and trust the Saviour whom He has provided, we are saved through His merits. As recipients of His lovingkindness, repentance will be deepened and will continue day by day, as we learn more of His infinite worth and our own unworthiness.

3) “Saving” faith

You may be aware of James 2:19, ” Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Even the devils believe that there is a God, but they are certainly not saved, so something more than a general belief that there is a God is necessary for salvation. At least one difference from the devils’ kind of faith and saving faith is a willingness to turn from our “own” way and to submit to God. Romans 10:9-10 say, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” It is more than just saying the words “Jesus is Lord,” but it does involve the acknowledgement that He is indeed Lord. I don’t want to get this confused with “Lordship salvation,” and, like repentance, it is something in which we will grow in our awareness of what it means and how it affects out lives, and there will be times even after we’re saved that we struggle with wanting our own way. But that initial realization and submission must be there.

I also used to get frightened by these verses from Matthew 7:

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

It was sobering to realize that there were some who would be surprised at the judgement at God’s rejection of them. I certainly didn’t want to be in that number! But once, when talking to my pastor about these verses, he pointed out that none of these people said, “I realized that I was a sinner and I trusted in Christ and what He did on the cross to pay for my sins.” They all pointed to their own good works, which cannot save anyone. Ephesians 2:8-10 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

4) “Enough” faith

In a similar vein to the issue of “enough” repentance, I wondered if I had “enough” faith. With this and these other questions, there were probably many contributing factors, from preaching and Bible reading and counseling, which helped, but there was one moment when this issue was essentially solved. I don’t remember whether I read this in one of C. H. Spurgeon’s books or heard it on the radio (there’s a local program of someone reading through some of his sermons) or heard it as an illustration, and some day I want to track it down and get the exact quote, but it went something like this:

In a journey you come to a place where there is a deep chasm. It’s too far across to jump and too deep and treacherous to crawl down into it and over to the other side. The only way across is a plank that someone laid across the chasm. You can go across in full confidence of the plank’s support, or you an go across haltingly and fearfully, but it’s not the largeness or smallness of your faith that got you across — it was the plank. That you had enough faith to trust in it and walk across it was all the faith you needed. So with our salvation, it’s not how great or small our faith is: what matters is Who we are trusting in.

5) I John

I John was “written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God” (I John 5:13). Within the book are several evidences that one is a child of God. The one possibly confusing thing about this is that none of us is perfect in any of these ways. But a child of God will have some degree of these evidences in his or her life. One time I went through and put a star beside all of these in my Bible:

I John 2:3: And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

I John 2:15: Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

I John 2:29: If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

I John 3:6-9:

6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

7 Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8 He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

(This can be confusing because it sounds like it is saying that a Christian will never sin, but it can’t mean that because in chapter 1:9 we’re promised that if we confess our sin we’ll be forgiven. I am told that these verses are speaking of a continual practice or lifestyle of sin. A true Christian cannot continue on in sin without experiencing God’s chastisement [Hebrews 12:5-8]. See also I John 5:17-18: “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”)

I John 3:14: We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

I John 3:18-19: My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

I John 3:24: And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

I John 4:13: Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

I John 4:15: Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

I John 5:1: Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

I John 5:12: He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

6) Not remembering my salvation experience

This is probably most common in those who profess Christ as children, but really it is hard for many people to remember exactly what they said, what they were thinking and understanding, etc. My former pastor, Dr. Mark Minnick, helped me with this by telling me that what is important is what am I trusting in now. He is the first one of whom I heard the question, “If you were to stand before God right now and He were to ask you why He should let you into His heaven, what would you say?” It’s not that that is how it will happen, but our response, the first thing that springs to our minds without thinking about it much, reveals what we’re trusting in. If our minds immediately think of good things we’ve done, we’re trusting in our own works which cannot save. But if our answer is that we’re trusting in Christ and what He did on the cross to provide for our salvation, we’re on the right track.

7) Taking the Bible at its word

Many times during these struggles I would have to just get out my Bible and go over and over salvation verses like the following and reaffirm my trust and just simply take them at their word:

John 3:16: For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 5:24: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Romans 10:9-10, 13: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

John 1:12: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

I hope this is helpful to anyone else struggling with whether or not they are truly saved, and I invite anyone readong this who is not saved, or isn’t sure, to read more about it here.

Testimony

The Condensed Version

I went forward in a Baptist church and made a profession of faith when I was about 8, but later on I couldn’t really remember what had happened, what I knew, what I was thinking, whether or what I had prayed. I wasn’t in church regularly or reading my Bible regularly, so I wasn’t being taught. Years later as a teen-ager, I struggled with whether or not I had truly believed, and finally, after a message in church about the “lake of fire” which those not found in God’s “book of life” were going to face, I realized I needed to get this settled once and for all. I told the Lord that if I wasn’t saved, I wanted to be. I knew I was a sinner (Romans 3:23), that Jesus was God’s Son, holy and perfect, and had died for my sin, had taken my sin and punishment on Himself (John 3:16, Romans 5:8). I knew there was nothing in me and nothing I could do to trust in for my salvation and that I could only be saved by and trusting in Him as my Lord and Savior to save me (Ephesians 2:8-9). John 1:12 says, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” and I received Him that day.

The More Complete Story

My family was not a Christian family in the born-again, church-going, living all out for God kind of way, but they did believe that there was a God, and there a kind of a respect for God, pastors, general morality, etc. I was allowed to go with my mother’s sister and father to the Lutheran church, where I was taught basic Bible stories and truths. I was taught that Jesus died for the sins of the world, but not that I needed to believe on Him for myself as my own personal Lord and Savior.

When I was about 8, a friend at school invited me to revival meetings that her Southern Baptist church was having. On the second or third night of attendance, my friend and one of her friends, the pastor’s daughter, kept telling me during the invitation that I needed to go forward and get saved. I looked around during the invitation to see if anyone was looking, and went forward to talk with the pastor. I really don’t remember anything that was said. I think I did pray. I’m sure someone must’ve talked with me, but I don’t remember. I was baptized later on.

I attended church sporadically, I think partly because I didn’t have regular transportation, and partly because, since I was the only one who went to church most of the time, I wasn’t disciplined enough to get myself up and going on Sunday mornings.

Before I started the eighth grade, we moved to another town. I became close friends with a girl named Dawn and began going with her to her church, a Lutheran church. Because I had been away from the Lutheran church during the time when most children take confirmation classes, I had missed them, so they had me take confirmation classes with adults who wanted to join the church. It was a very small group; one of the other members was a former Baptist. He and the pastor had some interesting conversations. J One time in class the pastor said, “I never had to invite Christ into my life; He has always been there.” I thought, “What about the verse that says, ‘Ye must be born again‘?” I wish I had had the courage to ask.

I was confirmed and attended church and the Luther League youth group with my friend. Some time in our early high school years, some Campus Crusade college kids came to our town and started regular meetings, and we attended those. From time to time I struggled with whether I was really a Christian, since I couldn’t remember exactly what had gone on when I went forward at the Baptist Church revival.

During this time, things began to fall apart in my family. Actually, they had been in the process of crumbling for a long time. The summer between my tenth and eleventh grades of school, my Mom left my dad and took me, my brother, and my three sisters to Houston, Texas.

Years before, after one of my parents’ fights when my father made us all leave, then the next day asked my mom to come back, I wondered why she did. But when she really did leave him, I was devastated. My family had totally fallen apart; we had had to move from all that was familiar; we moved from a very small town to the metropolis of Houston, which was a culture shock; and I wasn’t allowed to contact any friends or cousins for a while because my mother and step-father were afraid of what my dad might do if he could find us. I knew that something had to happen, that things could not have continued on for long as they had, yet the combination of all of these factors sent me tumbling, I felt like my world had been turned upside down, like the rug had totally been pulled from underneath me, like all my props, anything I had leaned on in my life, and been pulled away. At one point I wanted to run away from it all, but I thought of my younger siblings and wanted to be there to help take care of them (besides, practically, I had nowhere to go and no money to get anywhere :)).

I cried out to God as I never had for help in all of this. I knew Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” I knew that I loved God in the sense that I understood it at the time (though of course later I was to understand more fully what that meant), and he gave me the faith that He would work all of this out for good somehow.

When we went to register at the local high school, that was where I really experienced culture shock. Almost everyone looked scary to me. My mom was wearing a dress, and guys sitting in the hall tried to look up her dress as we walked by. I kept telling her, “Mom, I can’t go to school here, I just can’t go to school here!” She wasn’t happy with the school either, but said, “But you can’t quit school.” I said, “I know, but I can’t go here.”

We left, not really knowing what to do. A few days later we saw an ad in a store window for a nearby Christian school that was a part of an independent fundamental Baptist church. We went to interview, and I loved it and wanted to go there. But we didn’t have the money for tuition. So a few days later we went to the school to tell them I wouldn’t be able to come. My mom went into the office while I stayed in the car. The pastor and his wife pulled into the parking lot. When they saw me, they came over and told me that someone had offered to pay my way through school. Someone else ended up paying for both my junior and senior year: to this day I don’t know who, but I thank God for them, and know that they’ll have a reward in heaven!

A short while after I started attending the school, I also started attending that church, North Houston Baptist. The pastor strongly encouraged reading the Bible through, so I began to do so, and began to grow. Those old wrestlings about whether or not I was truly saved resurfaced. I knew I had seen the Lord’s hand at work in my life, but I didn’t know if that was because I was a child of His, or whether He was using these things to bring me to Himself. I struggled with this for many months, until one day my pastor preached a message from Revelation 20 about the lake of fire. The last verse of that chapter says, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” I realized that that was what I had to face if I wasn’t saved, and that I needed to get it settled and not just keep wrestling with it. So there in my pew I told the Lord that if I wasn’t saved, I wanted to be. I knew I was a sinner, that Jesus was God’s Son, holy and perfect, and had died for my sin, had taken my sin and punishment on Himself. I knew there was nothing in me and nothing I could do to trust in for my salvation and that I could only be saved by Him as my Lord and Savior and trusting in Him to save me.

I think because I had been questioning where I was spiritually for so long, it had almost become a habit, and I continued to struggle for a time and asked the Lord to save me many times. It was years before I really came to full assurance by going back again and again to what the Bible had to say about salvation. But that’s a subject for another entry. 🙂

Updated to add: I did write another post about coming to assurance here.