The Personal Salvation Testimony of Barbara Russell
Although I was raised in a loving family home and attended a Bible preaching church, something deep down inside of me was missing. I tried to be a good girl, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not rid myself of this empty feeling inside. I was afraid of this place called Hell, that I often heard preached about, so I “asked Jesus to come into my heart,” not knowing what that even meant, or why I needed to do it. Nothing changed; I still felt empty.
When I became a teenager, the emptiness turned into fear and hopelessness, and I contemplated suicide. I couldn’t go through with it, because I feared the unknown, and if Hell really did exist, then surely, that is where I would go. I made a few more attempts at “asking Jesus into my heart,” but still, nothing changed. So, I choose to ignore “that still small voice” and push away any conviction I felt. By now, I had learned how to pretend, so I would put on a smile and go about my day, suffering in silence.
Life went on, and I married young. Surely, I thought, being married would take the pain and fear away. Instead, it got worse. Now, I was convinced that I was just not good enough for God to want me. After having our first baby, I was hopeful my baby would be the solution to the problem, but to no avail. We had 2 more children, and now the fear was so paralyzing, I could barely function. My mind was distorted; “That’s it!” I concluded. “I am getting a divorce!” As my mind planned the escape, Bible verses I had learned as a child flooded my mind. The preaching of God’s Word plagued me, and I could “hear” my pastor say, “Don’t think divorce is the answer. All you are doing is trading one set of problems for another. Running from your problem will not make it go away.” So I stayed.
I began to harden my heart, and convince myself that there was never going to be any hope for ME, because God only loves good people, and I am not one of them. Around this same time, the “Flood of ’97” destroyed our church building, along with half the town, and many of my family and friends’ homes. The devastation shattered my little world of familiarity! “Who are you God?” I wailed. My mind was so messed up! I was so distraught, I became physically ill.
Then, I finally got honest with myself. No more pretending! I picked up a tract and cried out, “God, I want to know what is wrong with me. I am willing to accept the truth, please, just show me!” For the first time in my life, I understood, that the reason Jesus died, was for MY SIN. Had I not heard that a hundred times before? 2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not.” Verse after verse from God’s Word began to peel away my spiritual blindness. “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” So says Jeremiah 29:13. To my excuse, “I am not so bad,” God’s Word says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Isaiah 64:6a.
I thought, “God only loves good people:” God’s Word says, “But God commendeth his love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for you,” Romans 5:8. I thought, “God doesn’t want me:” The Bible says He is “…not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” II Peter 3:9b.
I had a zeal of God, but not according to truth. Romans 10:3 says, “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.” With my whole heart, I humbled myself and submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking for His underserved payment for my sin. I repented—changed my mind about what I think- and placed all my faith in Christ, believing and agreeing with what God says is truth. It finally made sense!
This peace that I had longed for, poured inside me, and I KNEW the “empty place” was filled! “Now the God of hope fill you with all JOY and PEACE in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost,” Romans 1:13. Pure joy flooded my soul, and a smile came across my face, that I no longer have to “put on” myself! “And the very God of peace sanctify (to make free from sin; purify) you wholly…” 1 Thessalonians 5:23a.
Because of Jesus Christ, fear no longer grips my heart! “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me” Psalm 56:3-4.