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My salvation experience. As I look back over my life I have often questioned my relationship with God. This question has been weighing very heavy on my mind since I started having children. I did not want my children growing up with the same distorted view of Christianity that I grew up with. As Dawson, my oldest boy was growing older it really started to hit me that he is walking in my foot steps. And he was headed down the same road I was. I had to change the trajectory immediately or the outcome would be the same.
In the fall of 2005, Blue Ridge Community Church was starting a new small group class called “Seekers”. They said it was for people looking to have a relationship with God. I knew in my head that it was for unsaved people, and I was already a Christian. But the thought of a relationship is what caught my attention. I was saved but I never had a “relationship” with God. So I signed up for the class. My prayer leading into this class was for God to show me where I was at with Him. I thought this would be the only puzzle piece that God needed to reveal to me. I was wrong; there was a series of puzzle pieces that He would later reveal to me one at a time.
The first night of class, I spoke with a lady named Peggy. I told her my story that I was a Christian but that I was looking for the relationship part of God. We spoke for about 15 minutes and I told her more about my past relationship with religion. Starting that night, God did something in Peggy that gave her a burden for me and my future. Slowly as the class progressed, God showed me I was not saved. I was realizing I did not have a character of Christ. He did this over a period of weeks. He led me to I John 1: 6,8,10. He allowed me to really think and examine my motives, my actions and my thoughts. The bible tells us that God examines the motives of the heart. My motives were never done out of obedience for God or a love for Him. Good or bad decisions were always done based on what people would think, not out of a true love for God. Even after getting married and settling down I was making a lot of good choices. God showed me during this time that even during the good choices, that my motives had nothing to do with Him. He allowed me to see that the right choices were still very self serving. I made the right choice out of what people would think of me or what was best for the group at large, no out of a love for God and His word.
At this point, God had answered the question I went into class with, “was I saved”. The short answer was NO. I thought okay, well now you have your answer we can do something about it and move on with life. It was not that simple. Something was still holding me back. My next thoughts were “what is going to make this any different than times before when I would say the Lords prayer”. I had gone forward in church and asked God into my heart at least 3 or 4 times with no change. I was certain this would be the same. I was not going through a public embarrassment just to have no change in my life. I was not going to get the hopes of my loved ones up just to let them down again. Peggy said just stick with the class and keep coming. So I did. A few weeks later God woke me up at 2 am on a Thursday night after the Seekers class, with the thoughts of how this time would be different. He did not show me it would be different, instead He said “you are spiritually lazy”. He showed me that for it to be different I could not afford to be spiritually lazy. I have all my life been one to do just enough to get by. I have cut corners all my life. I always take the path of least resistance. Examples of cutting corners ranged from cheating academically, to conforming to the crowd, to settling for a mediocre marriage. God showed me He does not want me to always take the easy road. There will be times when I will have to get up and work for this relationship. This was the second puzzle piece God revealed to me through this class.
I had the answer at the beginning, was I saved and the answer was NO. I have the final piece of “how will I know this time will be different”, through not being spiritually lazy. There was still a third puzzle piece that God had yet to reveal to me. All that was left to do was step across that line in faith and accept Christ. Sounded easy enough, but I could not get there. For weeks something was stopping me from doing it. God had been faithful in answering my questions and revealing Himself to me. Then one night at class we were reading John chapter 5. It talked about the invalid at the pool. God told him if he wanted to be made well to pick up his mat and walk. I felt God saying to me “you have been a spiritual invalid for 35 years, GET UP AND WALK.”. I shared with Peggy how this passage had spoken to me that night. She was faithful and continued to pray for my spiritual well-being. Weeks went by and I still could not force myself to cross that line. God had been so amazing in revealing all the puzzle pieces one at a time over the last 3 months. I guess satan realized I was being drawn to Christ. So over the next 3-4 weeks I went cold on moving toward God. I do not know why or how this happened but I was content to continue my life as it was before the Seekers class. I started to drift fast. I would come to church for the kids, not because I was searching for God.
Then, on Sunday December 11, 2005 at the beginning of the service, Peggy found me again and came up to say good morning and give me a quick hug. She asked me how I was doing. I said I was doing well. She said “no, really how are you doing?” I finally admitted okay maybe I have regressed a little bit. She said “I know I have been seeing it for weeks.” We talked some more and she said she would like for me to schedule a time with her so she could just sit a pray for me. I thought that was a nice gesture and told her I would try to come see her this next week one day. I could see tears in her eyes because she wanted this so badly for me. I went back into the service and I thought “why does this lady care at all about what is going on with me, why? What would move her to tears about this?” I ponder that thought the whole service, and near the end of the service I found myself getting emotional for no reason. I felt an anxiety attach coming on and I had to get out of the sanctuary. I slipped out the back door to the hallway where Peggy and I had talked in at the beginning of the service. Little did I know at the time, but Peggy was in the very back of the church praying that the Holy Spirit would be moving in my life. When I was in the hallway I continued to get emotional over nothing or how I had lost at life and missed its true meaning. Something kept telling me “go find Peggy now and have her pray now; it does not need to wait until next week, do it now”. I fought that thought in the hallway for about 5 minutes before finally surrendering and I went to the foyer to find Peggy.
When I found Peggy we went up stairs to pray. Peggy said she would pray and if I wanted to ask Christ into my heart that I could pray it to myself or she could lead me in a prayer. Peggy went ahead and prayed for me. When she finished she asked if I did or if I wanted to pray the prayer. I said no, I was not ready I did not want to make a decision out of emotion; I needed to think about it. Remember, my biggest fear was “how was this time going to be different”. I am very structured I need to plan things out and think about them before I react. I went to get the children and we drove home. All the way home I kept getting emotional and I could not stop. I had a Christian radio station playing and the song “Better is One Day’ came on the radio. Something was telling me to go back to the church and find Peggy. Over and over this thought played in my mind. I dropped the kids off at home and told my wife I had to go back to church. My wife asked why and I did not want to tell her what I was doing because I was not sure I was going to make it all the way back without talking myself out of it. The drive back to BRCC was a difficult one. Three different times I thought about turning around and going home. I thought I was blowing this thing out of proportion. But for whatever reason I continued to drive to the church knowing I could turn around in the church parking lot if I have to. I got to the church parking lot and parked, I sat in my car for 10 minutes before entering the building, and I was still battling it. I finally went into the church and found Peggy. We went upstairs to the same room we had been in before and I gave my life to Christ.
Little did I know at the time, but when I left the church the first time Peggy was devastated. She found a quiet place to pray and she was asking God for me to come back. She said I was not supposed to leave and could He bring me back. Amazing enough God was telling me to come back and I did.