The summer I was 16, I was asked to be a counselor at a Christian youth camp. I could not refuse without "blowing my cover" and confessing that I was lost. I spent a miserable week with twelve 9-12-year-old girls, most of whom had come to camp for the first time. Everyone thought I was having a rough time because I'd never been a counselor before, but I knew that the real reason was that I had nothing of any spiritual value to offer them.
During the next year, I did a lot of soul searching. I began to be seriously concerned about my spiritual state. I tried to make myself believe that maybe, after all, I really was saved. I had "prayed a prayer" at the age of six; maybe I would be all right in the end. I tried to ease my conscience about this by saying if-I'm-not-saved-please-save-me-now prayers. I confided my struggles to a friend, who promptly told our Christian school principal. She talked to me privately, sharing some Scripture with me that she felt would "give me assurance." She told me that I really was saved, but that I only needed assurance.
I read those verses, but I was not "assured." Deep down I knew this was because I still did not want to fully yield my life to Christ. I was doubling up on my school work in order to graduate a year early, and looked forward to getting out from under my parents' roof so I could "cut loose." I dreamed about all I could experience once I left home. The only problem I saw was that my father wanted me to go for at least one year of Bible college. The only college I thought I could attend was the same one my older brother and sister attended. How could I do my own thing there, with them to see and write home about me?
The summer after my high school graduation, I was again asked to be a camp counselor at the same Christian youth camp. Although I again agreed rather than confess to my deception, this time I knew I'd have to deal with myself. I cautiously approached another counselor, a good friend who was older and wiser. I was half afraid she'd try to "assure" me as my principal had, and half afraid she'd blow the whistle on me. She did neither. When I told her I thought I might not be saved, she wisely (and rather bluntly) said, "Well, you'd better go pray and find out!"
She could not have given me better advice. Only the Holy Spirit can give a true witness to a sinner that he or she has been converted. I did pray that day, and often throughout that week. I believe I was converted then, though not everything changed overnight. During the next three years I began to grow more in the knowledge Christ. The growth was slow and gradual, but it was there. I prayed a lot, and read my Bible a lot. I did go to Bible college, where I learned a lot more from fellow Christian students than from any of my professors.
There was one problem--I still had not come clean before my parents and my church. The deception was still there, though it had changed form. I was embarrassed and ashamed to confess that big lie to all those people. I wanted to think that it was okay for them to think I really was saved when I was baptized at age twelve. After all, I was saved now, and had been baptized; did it really matter that much that the baptism had come first?
to be continued...