My Testimony begins with The First Time I Got Saved. I was only a child, but it was just as real as any of the other times I got saved or rededicated my life.
It was also the first time that I would hear the Lord speak to me. However, it would be many years before I realized that.
Telling the story of my childhood salvation experience may seem like a strange place to start. But this is definitely where my story begins.
One Sunday morning
I was around five years old and sitting in a familiar Sunday school classroom in our home church. A freewill Baptist church in Flint MI. My father had been an assistant pastor in that church around the time I was born. But by this time, my mother and father were divorced and my two, much older, sisters were no longer attending church. Now, it was just my mother and me.
That particular Sunday morning, I sat Indian style on the floor, with the other children. While we listened to our teacher, Miss Naomi, tell us a story about Jesus. It seemed like a very typical Sunday morning but then something very different happened.
While Miss Naomi told us about Jesus and Heaven, I knew that what I wanted more than anything was to know, that when I died, I would live with Jesus, in Heaven. See already, in just five short years I had seen a lot of loss and upheaval in my young life. And even though I had no clue as to how hard some of the coming years would be, already, I knew I had a need for Jesus in my life.
But suddenly there was a problem with what Miss Naomi seemed to be saying. You see she went from telling us about the sweetness of heaven, and Jesus, to telling us that if we wanted to go to Heaven, then we must be saved by Jesus before we died.
Stop the “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” music!
There were stipulations? Requirements?
We couldn’t just walk in, grab a harp and find a seat in the clouds?
I was suddenly so upset, and scared. I knew that I needed Jesus and heaven, but what Miss Naomi was saying sounded impossible to me. You see when she said that we would have to be saved, by Jesus – before we died- I had a vision. It wasn’t a vision from God; it was from my own imagination and misunderstandings.
I envisioned that the only way that I would be able to go to heaven is if I – my little five-year-old self – was falling off a tall building, plummeting to my certain death below. And then if Jesus would suddenly sweep in like Superman and catch me moments before my demise then this would mean that Jesus had saved me and I would become eligible for heaven.
Fear gripped my heart as I contemplated her words. Waiting for this type of salvation just wasn’t going to work for me. I couldn’t chance to fall off of a building to see if Jesus was going to save me. I wasn’t even supposed to cross the street by myself, not to mention the fact that I was way to scared to jump off a building in hopes of being saved.
But I also couldn’t just wait until a natural death to know whether or not I’d get to go to Heaven. I might live to be an old lady and what then? I needed assurance right then that Heaven would be my home one day. So what was I going to do???
Suddenly, in the middle of all my fear and worry, God spoke directly to me. When Miss Naomi’s words came back in to focus, I heard her saying.. ” Now being saved doesn’t mean that If you are falling off of a tall building, then Jesus will come in and save you like Superman and then you can go to Heaven.”
And then she went on to tell us that salvation comes by believing that Jesus is the Son of God – oh and I did, and my heart had hope again. She went on to explain more about how simple salvation is, how Jesus had paid the cost, and we just had to believe and pray and ask Jesus to come into our hearts and live. And we would be saved. And we could know that Heaven would be our home.
That day, Miss Naomi told us that if we believed, we could pray. And when she led us in a prayer, I prayed and received Jesus into my heart. And I went home with joy and assurance that Heaven would be my home because Jesus had saved me.
But that was only the first time.
Yes, you read that right. That was, in fact, the first of many times that I realized that my life was a wreck and that I was plummeting in despair to certain death below. The first of many times that I realized that I needed Jesus to sweep in and save me. But that first time taught me that Jesus is always just a prayer away.
What I’ve learned over the years is that the joy I felt that day wasn’t just because I now knew I could go to Heaven when I died. The Joy I felt was the joy of the Holy Spirit that had come to live with me.
That same Holy Spirit has gone with me through the worst days of my life. Both the days that were forced upon me and the ones I walked into willingly. You see I’m not perfect, but HE was always there, calling me home. And Heaven really is just a prayer away.
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If you would like to read another story, a fiction story, about a little girl who needed to know that God could forgive her and didn’t want to wait until her death. Check out “>The Last Sin Eater By one of my favorite Christian Authors Francine Rivers.