By Susan Hutchens
If you had known me before I was saved, you would have said I was a good girl. I did all the right things. I wanted to serve God above all else. But there was just one problem: I had no assurance at all that I was saved.
Let me tell you my story.
My dad was saved on January 26, 1972, when I was six years old. My mother had taken me to church occasionally, but I had never heard the gospel. When my parents were invited to church by a childhood friend of my dad’s, I sat in the service not understanding anything. At the end of the service, lots of people went to the front of the auditorium and knelt down, so I did too. Our friend's wife knelt beside me and asked me if I wanted to be a Christian. Of course I said yes! I was a good girl and wanted to do what seemed to be a good thing. She then lead me in a prayer and told me I was a Christian. That was it. I do not recall having any knowledge or conviction of sin, and I do not remember hearing the gospel. I just repeated a prayer.
As I grew up, I continued wanting to be a good girl. I knew deep down that I wasn’t good; I sinned a lot! But I basically obeyed my parents - aside from a smart mouth - and was a good student in school. I liked going to church. I complied with my parents’ dress standards without complaint. As a teenager, I trusted my parents’ instructions about boys and dating, and never even glanced at any of the wrong kinds of guys. I wanted to marry a saved guy, and I did. We began our life together serving faithfully in every church we attended as he went into the military. By everyone’s standards, I was good. No one would have suspected that, inside my heart, doubt and fear raged much of the time.
For years, I based my salvation on the slim thread of that prayer I repeated as a little girl. When those deeply troubling doubts would arise, I’d desperately pray, like a mantra, “Lord, please save me if I’m not saved,” hoping that one of those times I would say the right words, but I never really believed that God had saved me. I was ashamed to talk to anyone about my fear, but I finally talked to my husband. He had never doubted his salvation, so he wasn’t sure how to help me beyond reviewing scriptures with me.
I knew them all, but for some reason, I just didn’t feel that God would save ME.
The first weekend of March, 1993, found me attending a ladies’ conference with my church. One of the speakers was the elderly sister of a famous pastor, and she gave her testimony of living in fear for many years because she wasn’t saved. My ears perked up — this sounded just like me! I didn’t tell anyone that day about my struggle, but I knew I had to get this settled.
That Sunday I was deeply under conviction. We had a visiting evangelist, and I sat through both services just miserable. But I still didn’t surrender! Sunday night at home with my husband, I went to him again about my fears. He said I needed to talk to our pastor, and made an appointment with him for five o’clock the next afternoon. I was afraid to talk to our pastor, yet relieved to finally have hope that I could get my salvation settled.
That afternoon, my pastor questioned me about why I doubted my salvation. After a few minutes, he began to quote verses to me. I John 5:14-15 were first - God would hear and answer anything we asked of Him that was according to His will. II Peter 3:9 - God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. As he talked, God showed me that He would do His part if I would do my part — simply trust Him! The missing ingredient all my life had been faith. I hadn’t believed that God would accept me. I had always felt I needed to get the words right or cry enough or have a dramatic experience at the altar at church. No. All it took was simple repentance of my sin and simple faith in Jesus’ sacrifice for my sin. I bowed my head and asked Jesus to save me, once and for all — and this time my prayer was one of faith. I finally had rest — sweet, blessed rest! It was like the difference between perching on the edge of a chair, not believing it would hold me, and sitting back in that chair and resting in it.
I’m so glad God didn’t give up on this good girl who wasn’t good after all!