As a young child, the gospel was not something I thought about much. I did not see it as unimportant, but just assumed that I did not need to think about it until I was older. None of my church friends seemed to think about it much, so this seemed logical. Both of my parents were active followers of Christ and I remember my dad explaining the gospel and painting vivid pictures of hell in my mind at an early age. Still, it was not until I was about fourteen that I really felt my need for Christ.
When I was twelve or thirteen years old, I began cheating on some of my schoolwork. Most of my cheating was in the area of math. Since I was home educated, cheating was very easy; I would just conceal my answer book under my math book and copy the answers. This became more and more frequent as Sin carried out his scheme to take greater control of my life. He promised me freedom from the responsibility that I despised, and I was more than willing to serve him. At first his burden seemed light and his wages seemed good, but I soon found him to be a traitor. I learned too late that what he had given me was not freedom at all, only demanding and wearisome slavery to himself—for no wages but death.
I began to want intensely to get out of the service of this cruel master. My sin and its consequences only became more distasteful to me. But every time I tried to quit my sin I could not. Through numerous attempts at quitting, I eventually found a half solution: I would not cheat, but I would only do half of a lesson instead of the whole. This eased my conscience a little. Yet I saw myself drifting farther and farther behind where I should have been in my math book. With a nagging conscience, I set up one catch up plan after another in an attempt to right my wrong, but none of them ever worked. I avoided my parents, not wanting to give them any chance to ask to see my schoolwork. I got caught on several occasions and cried over it, resolving once more to never do it again. This would result in a few better days, but it was short-lived.
I was in bondage to my deception. I hated it; it made me miserable, yet I couldn’t quit. It was like I was in quick sand—the more I would struggle to free myself of it, the farther into it I would sink. In the back of my mind I knew that the only way to truly fix my sin problem was to come to Christ. But I did not feel like I could come to Christ unless I got better first. Then God used a few lines of the hymn, Come Ye Sinners, to get my attention:
Come ye weary, heavy laden, lost and ruined by the fall.
If you tarry ‘til your better, you will never come at all.
At this point I realized that I was not going to improve by my own efforts. I really saw my need for Christ. I began to have a lot of discussions with my dad about how to be saved. The basic content of what he said was always the same: All people are sinners. And God, as a completely just judge, must punish all sin. But how do some escape His wrath? The answer is—through Christ. God displayed His just mercy toward some by providing a substitute for them. He poured out the wrath that they deserve on His only Son, Jesus Christ, when He died on the cross. So then, when God looks at those for whom Christ died, He considers them righteous through the work of His Son. My dad told me that the only way to receive the benefits of Christ’s death was to trust Him completely for salvation.
A had a lot of questions about the meaning of the word “trust.” Very often my dad would express the idea of trusting as resting on Christ. That was a helpful picture. I still had trouble knowing how to trust Christ. I knew that trusting was essentially a non-work. “But,” I thought, “how do you do it if it means to not do anything?” My dad told me that I should rest as much as I could on Christ’s work, and pray that it would be saving trust. Then he reminded me that a good tree bears good fruit. He said that I would know that I was a believer when I saw the fruit.
What he said helped me to realize that trust is a lifestyle, not something that just happens at a point in time. I realized that I should stop worrying about how to trust, and just trust the best I know how, and keep trusting.
After I did this, the good fruit began to grow. I saw that I was no longer controlled by sin, and I had a desire to know more of Christ and to tell others about Him. It took me a while to come to full assurance of salvation, however, because I had heard many stories of people having false assurance, and did not want that to happen to me. But when I recalled my former life in bondage to sin and saw the new desires that were not there before, I could no longer doubt that the change was from God. When I came to assurance, I was baptized and became a member of Christ Fellowship of Kansas City. At this time I was fifteen years old. I continue to grow in Christ, through His Word and prayer and the encouragement of the body of Christ. I willingly strive to serve the One who saved me, whose “yoke is easy and burden is light.”