“I was a person who trusted in Christian religion for salvation. I trusted that if I was a relatively good person and performed my Christian religious duties that somehow God would accept me. However; that left the question of how good would be good enough and what if God ultimately rejects me? Subsequently, I was afraid to die because I was uncertain about life after death.
I thus dove into the things that my religion dictated in an attempt to fill the void. I went to church, prayed, gave money, partook in communion, and confessed (to a man) the things that I was doing wrong. I was talking to the church leaders all the time. I was constantly religious. I spent a lot of time in God’s house but didn’t know God.
The Bible was only referred to briefly during church and everything else was rehearsed traditions. This helped my conscience but didn’t fill the void. I still came up empty without an assurance of heaven. I was still in a place were I was afraid to die and be confronted with the unknown.
Around this time I met Alice who would one day be my wife and she temporarily filled what I thought was missing. She had no religious experience. Our relationship began well but was slowly filled with conflict. Again a human relationship proved to be a futile attempt to fill the vacuum in my heart. Our relationship was slowly coming to an inevitable end and one night I prayed and asked God to bless me with a godly woman. A woman that in my eyes was “religious” and sported good morals.
I never thought that God would answer my prayer. It was a cry of desperation; born out of failure. One night we went to visit my cousin who had recently gotten married and was an outspoken Christian. I warned Alice not to do anything that would bring on his preaching before we went into his house. We had no sooner walked in that my cousin began sharing a parable out of the Bible with Alice. It was the parable of the Sower and the Seed.
The sower has seed that he scatters and it falls on different areas of the ground. Some of the ground is filled with stones, some with thorns, some seed fell by the wayside, and some found itself in fertile soil. My cousin explained that the different types of soil represented our hearts while the seed represented the Word of God. The seed (Word of God) that falls on fertile soil (the heart) is the person who gladly receives and understands the Word of God and eventually bears fruit for God.
Alice began to weep and cry out, “I want to be good soil, I want to be good soil!” She prayed with my cousin to receive the Lord Jesus into her heart. As they were praying the Lord was so graciously answering my desperate prayer to bless me with a godly woman. I understood in that instant that such a woman would have to have a personal relationship with Jesus and not be “religious” at all. Jesus seeks to have a living relationship with us and this became clear to me that night.
I could not argue against the peace and joy that Alice received that night; it was obvious that she was a changed person from the inside out. I thought “Could that be what I am missing as well, that the vacuum in my heart could only be filled with Jesus?” I was trying to change outwardly through religion what could only be changed inwardly through a real relationship with Jesus Christ.
I had many questions though because my Christian religion served as an obstacle to knowing Jesus. It was easier for Alice who had no Christian religious experience to be saved! No one ever shared with me the simple truth of the Gospel that one can be saved by grace alone believing that Jesus died on the cross for our sin. Therefore there was no certainty of going to heaven. The religious system taught that we should do our best and follow their rules and if for some reason we didn’t make it to heaven and were not bad enough to go to hell that we would end up in a place where it could be worked off. The religious system that I was a part of could not guarantee salvation.
I desperately needed to know that if I died I’d go to heaven and that there was much more to life than what I was experiencing. So, in obedience to God’s Word I too asked the Lord to forgive my sin and save me. He saved me that night and I’ve never been lonely again because He promises never to leave me or forsake me. In an instant after receiving the Lord I wasn’t afraid to die. When you are truly saved something happens to you. I knew that my life and eternity were now in His hands and not the hands of man and religion.”