Since before I was born, my father has been an independent Baptist preacher. I went to church with my family every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and all special services. My brothers and I were always involved in the church activities, and we even lived next to the church building. I grew up hearing that I was a sinner, but I never took the time to think about its effect on my life, or my eternity. Sometimes I would get scared of Hell, and I would pray to ‘be saved.’ But the elements of true Bible salvation were missing, and it made no impact in my life.
When I was in the fifth grade, I belonged to a Bible club in our church called “King’s Kids.” I went mostly to see my friends and participate in the activities. I remember distinctly at one meeting where the assistant pastor came in with a bucket. He told us how he had changed the oil on his car that day and had brought a special present for us. He began pulling old dirty, oily rags out of the bucket and wiping them on his hands. Soon his hands were black with disgusting, dirty grease. Then he asked one of the boys, “Would you like to take this home? Why don’t you take it and wash your mother’s dishes with it?” Of course, the boy wouldn’t do that. His mother would be very upset if he washed the dishes with those nasty rags. Like girls are prone to do, we laughed and giggled at the speaker’s outrageous suggestions.
After the titters and whispers had subsided, the speaker looked at us with a serious face. “You know what?” he said, “God says that He looks at us like this dirty, old, greasy rags.” Suddenly my smile faded. In Isaiah 64:6, God’s Word tells us, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags…” I thought of myself as a pretty good person. After all, I had never done anything ‘really big.’ I practically lived in the church. I never missed a service. I did everything right…or so I thought. But God says that He looks at my righteousness as a filthy rag. This is a hard thing for us to understand. After all, we see in the Bible that God wants us to live right and holy. How could He not accept good works? You see, the problem is not the good works, but the problem is the bad works. Until the ‘bad works’ have been forgiven, God really doesn’t care about the good works. Yes, He wants us to live right, but until our hearts are right in His sight, our actions mean nothing at all. All those good things I tried to do just didn’t live up to God’s standard. In fact, they offended Him. By trying to get into Heaven my own way, I was really slapping God’s Son in the face saying, “I’ll do it on my own.” Suddenly my whole outlook on life changed.
I wrestled with these thoughts for a year, trying to find my own solution to the problem. Then something I least expected happened. My mother was saved. Now my mother had grown up in a pastor’s home and married a preacher. She went to church every service, just like I did. For over thirty years, she had fooled herself into believing she was a Christian, hanging onto a childhood profession. I got scared. I did not want that to happen to me. I could feel myself getting comfortable in church life, and getting accustomed to the preaching of God’s Word. My mom got a second chance, but what if I didn’t? What if I died when I was young and was never born again? I would go to Hell—God didn’t accept my good works as payment!
On February 24, 1997, I finally gave everything up. I knew that I could not wait any longer. Only my pride and not wanting to admit I was lost kept me from being saved. I knew that God looked at the thoughts in my heart as if I had already committed the sin, and He hated it! He hated the way that I had broken His commandments and violated His laws. Even the very best things I had ever done were in His sight as filthy, disgusting rags. My heart broke as I thought about how it was my sins that sent Jesus Christ to the cross. Even if I had been the only person in the world, He loved me enough to die for me. I knew that I could only reach Heaven through receiving Jesus as my Savior. On that day, I bowed before God and asked Him to save me. And He did! I still find it hard to believe that the God of the universe cares so much about me. But I am so glad that He did! Today, I have a peace in my heart that I will go to Heaven one day. I still do the same good works as before, but now I’m not doing it to try to impress God. Jesus gave His life for me, why can’t I give my life for Him? I want to serve Him for the rest of my life.