I have been raised by parents who love God and have taught me His Word ever since I was very young. This has been one of the greatest blessings of my unworthy life, but it was not something I truly recognized and appreciated from the start. As a little girl, I was stubborn and proud, determined to have my own way in everything.
“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” ~Psalm 51:5
Yet I believed that because my parents were saved, I was also saved. I went to church with them, I listened when they read the Bible aloud to us, and I even prayed at the dinner table. In reality, I didn’t care about God, His Word, or the condition of my depraved and lost soul. I had interest only in myself, and payed little attention to how I lived before a holy God.
When I was about ten years old, my mom encouraged me to start reading the Bible on my own. I was reluctant to do it, but I was too proud to admit that. I made myself read the Word of God every day and then decided I would try to obey it. Since I feared man rather than God, I also tried as hard as I could to maintain a good reputation amongst our church and my friends.
All this time, I had semi-understood the salvation story. I knew that God had sent His Son into the world so that He could take the punishment for my sins by dying on the cross. I understood that by believing and trusting in Christ as my Savior, God could forgive me of my sin and justly declare my righteous. However, I was unrepentant and unwilling to confess Jesus as my Lord. I only wanted to avoid punishment and get my “ticket” to heaven.
“The man who says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not do what He commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” ~1 John 2:4-6
My insincerity was not easy to hide, and there came a time where I finally didn’t care to conceal it at home. My parents and my sister noticed the evident discrepancy between what I said I believed and how I acted. My mom sat with me in private and graciously shared her concerns with me. During our discussion, she opened up he Bible to point out scripture related both to salvation and to the marks of salvation. We read Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one may boast.”
This was not a one-time mother-and-daughter chat. I was unwilling to change my ways, and since I persistently claimed to be a Christian, my mom continued to talk with me. Every time, God’s Word was opened and my sin was confronted. I grew irritated by my inability to appear godly, and in frustration, I almost questioned the very existence of God.
God was working in me in spite of this, and as I continued to read the Bible, He opened my eyes and helped me see that I can’t make myself righteous. I don’t know the exact time I was saved, but I was about twelve years old. The Lord showed me that I was nothing but a wretched sinner, deserving His wrath and a total separation from Him. I was in desperate need of God’s grace, and only He could clothe me in His righteousness. The truth about myself and especially Himself was overwhelming.
After this, I began to read the Bible constantly, because I truly wanted to know God more. Sin became something that I hate. Although my sin nature no longer has control over me, it was not easy to repent and turn away from it, because it is still here, waging war against my soul.
“When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ out Lord! ~Romans 7:21b-25
Jesus says in John 6:44, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.” My understanding of God’s sovereignty was shallow for a while after He saved me. I thought that I had become a Christian because I had earnestly sought the Lord on my own. I thought that trusting Christ was merely a decision powered by my own will to choose. I believed that I was sovereignly ruling over my own heart and affections, but thankfully, my beliefs couldn’t change what had really happened. According to Him, I was powerless to turn from evil and do good. My will had always been bent in accordance to what I loved, which was evil. It was the Lord who had changed my heart and brought me to Himself.
“Not to us, O Lord, not us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.” ~Psalm 115:1