For a long time I had struggled with my faith. Even as a small child I doubted my salvation. As I got older, the doubts faded in and out, leaving me content or miserable by turn. Then in more recent years, I became more concerned with serving God and following His Will for my life. I thought that surely this would make my doubts recede, but it
Year after year, sermon after sermon, the doubts kept coming and going, based on my emotions of the day. Over and over, I went through my Bible, repeating the steps, echoing the prayer. "Romans 3:23, 'For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God," I'd say. "I know I'm a sinner, Lord! I know I'm not worthy!"
"Romans 6:23, 'For the wages of sin is death [hell], but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,'" I'd repeat. "I know I'm going to hell without You Lord! And I know that You sent Your Son to die on the cross for me! I know you rose from the dead, like Mark 16:6 says: 'And he [angel] said unto them, Be not amazed. Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen; He is not here. Behold the [empty] place where they laid Him.'" "I know John 3:16 is true, 'For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish but have everlasting life,' I believe you love me that much, Jesus, and I believe in You!"
Praying this over and over, knowing that I needed to do to be saved, I still had doubts. "I trust in You!" I've wept over and over again, scared to death that somehow I didn't really. And yet I knew I did; I had to; He is the only way to Heaven, and I've known this for as long as I canremember. For almost a year I was "fine," until several Gospel messages were preached at church. "Matthew 18:3, 'And [Jesus] said, Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as a little child, ye shall not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven.'" This verse had never worried me before that message, but I wasn't obedient to the Spirit's wooing, I didn't go forward, and so I began to fear that I wasn't humble enough to come before God.
Several nights running, I lay awake, praying and praying that God would accept the prayers from my bedroom and not demand that I go forward at church. "God, you know my heart. You know I want to be saved. You know I trust in You for my salvation, don't You?"
I didn't think that I doubted the Lord, I was sure that I only doubted myself, but I did doubt God. The only condition God has put on salvation for anyone is that we trust Him fully to save us. "Whosoever believeth on Him..." But did I really trust? I knew I trusted Him, and yet those doubts kept filling my mind.
Then I simply told myself that I was saved, though I still wasn't sure. I tried to stay in the Word, I tried to follow God's Will, but my heart was hardening against the wooing of the Spirit. My pride was keeping me back by saying, "You don't need to go forward. You know you're saved." Then I realized it was my pride holding me back. More doubts filled me. "Did I humble myself before You God, even though I didn't go forward?" the question rankled in my mind. "I prayed, asking You to forgive me, but was that enough?"
For over a month, these questions crashed across my mind like the waves of a stormy sea. I wasn't settled in anything, and my heart was heavy and dark, knowing that my disobedience to God was hurting Him. Then as I lay awake one night, my mind filled with sinful thoughts, causing me to pray for forgiveness, begging God to answer my prayers. That was when He did.
"God, I humbled myself before you privately, but was that enough?" I whimpered into the darkness of my room.
"No," the Voice said. "You can never do enough. I did it all for you; I did it all. You are my child, because you came to me, knowing you need me and knowing that I am the only Way to the Father, and I have kept my word. You called on me in your dark hour of need, and I took you in, like I have planned to do since before I created the world.
"Remember, you did not seek me, but it was I who came after you. I chose you, therefore you are mine forever." (John 15:16 "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you..." Ephesians 1:4 "...He hath chosen us in Him before the foundations of the world..." John 10:28 "And I shall give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.") Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His Purpose."
I can now see another way this verse is true. That little tree with the caterpillars at camp reminded me that God loved me and planned for me even before Adam was created and placed in the garden of Eden. I recalled this little story in my personal history when God spoke to me that night, reminding me that I am His, like He'd planned all along. Even a little caterpillar can be used for the Ultimate Glory of God!
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