I move in with my cousins and legal guardians in the fall of 82. I start attending church and going to their Christian school. My legal guardians ask me if I want to “get saved” and I said I wasn’t ready. I listen to the messages at church and eventually come under conviction. She, my cousin D., told me whenever I’m ready let her know. After about a month and being under conviction I go tell her I’m ready.
She opens to some verses in Romans. One of them particular says, “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” She says, “Rhonda, we can put your name in there: If Rhonda shall call upon the name of the Lord, Rhonda shall be saved.” She told me I would still be saved 100 years from now once I called. She tells me you can’t undo your salvation. I believed every word she said. She showed me verses in the Bible, it had to be true right? Well, maybe not. I trusted them, but they did not give me the whole story. They just gave me the basic “Roman’s road to salvation” doctrine. I repeated a prayer after her , calling on Jesus for salvation. I didn’t doubt them, even after months and years later of being in doubt and torment and depression because what they told me didn’t work.
I went to youth camp and the preacher was preaching on Lordship salvation. This is the doctrine that says you must make Jesus your Lord, not just your savior. I knew it was true. It confirmed the validity of my doubts and questions about my salvation. I sat in my seat while everyone went to the alter to get saved again. Preacher’s children were going forward-everyone was going forward, except for me. My pride got in the way, but I knew it was true.
Year later while at a Baptist college and I go visiting the children that were to ride the bus to our church I give that same plan of salvation to other people that didn’t work for me, full of doubt and with my own heart breaking while I did it. I hoped the anguish of my heart did not show. How could I lead them to a “salvation” that didn’t work for me?
I tried reading my Bible and having devotions, but I could not continue-it hurt too bad and intensified my doubts and depression. So I would stop because I would be less miserable that way.
I searched the school’s library for books on doubting your salvation. I thought God hated me. I tried to console myself with a book written by the pastor’s wife: “I feel precious to God.” I didn’t believe God loved me. Why would he if he rejected me for salvation? I wished I had been born a dog or a cat or a toad because once they died it was all over. I hated to face a life of rejection by God and then eternal hell fire after that. I hated my life. I hated the fact that I was ever born. I found a tape series on doubting your salvation in the library. I took it and listened to it. It basicly taught that one must “love the brethren” if we wanted to be saved; or that was proof we were saved. I know I didn’t love the brethren, but we were getting somewhere.
I was afraid of Jesus’ words (the words in red) and could not read them because they didn’t line up with my theology.
I continued like this in this college for 2 years. I didn’t know what to do. I trusted the Baptists. I trusted Dr. Jack Hyles. He was practicly a god to these Baptists. He had 30,000 in Sunday school during promotion days. How could he be wrong? How could my cousins be wrong and my family? Who was I to believe otherwise? I was just an “airhead” right? That’s what they called me at that Christian school in New Mexico, and I believed them.
It wasn’t salvation, not in the totality of what entails salvation or not the whole picture, but I responded to the Truth I was given. None of us start out knowing everything. “To whom much is given much shall be required.” I wasn’t given the whole story. But what I did receive I responded in faith to. It was a step in the right direction, but God had more for me to learn.