The story of how I accepted Jesus as my personal savior.
Seventh and eighth grade were probably the peak of my social life. I had more friends and girlfriends during those two years than I have for the rest of my life since. This isn't to say that these were the most important and meaningful relationships and friendships of my life, just the must numerous. And with the multitude of different people that I interacted with, I was faced with a wide array of varied opinions. Most of my friends were fairly religious, while I myself was just trying to figure out what I believed in.
Since many of my closest friends went to church, I would on occasion join them and try to understand their faith. It was this open-minded attitude which put me in the situation I was in whenever I got "saved". One of my friends told me about a "Lock-in" that her church was having. I had heard fun stories from other friends about Lock-ins that they attended, and I figured it would be enjoyable to get to stay up late, locked in a big church with a bunch of friends my age.
After heading over to her house and meeting up with a few people, we went to the church and they locked the doors. They showed us a very long movie (or series of shorter movies) outlining what will happen whenever "The Rapture" occurs and Jesus returns. I remember that nobody was really too interested in the movie, but we all just sat behind the pews in the back and socialized. When the movies were over, they got a little more serious and had us all separate among the pews. We were told to bow our heads and close our eyes, and we were led in a prayer. The speaker also discussed the rapture, and asked who all had been saved. He asked those who had not been saved to raise their hands. Since my eyes were closed, I didn't know how common this was among the people at the Lock-in. Being honest, I raised my hand, with my head still bowed. He then instructed those of us with our hands up to come forward. I just figured he was going to further discuss what being saved entailed, and then allow us to make the decision on whether or not we wanted to.
Myself and about four other people, one of which was a good friend of mine, went into the back room. The speaker had us all stand in a circle and hold hands with one another. Without much explanation, he started to say a prayer, and informed us to bow our heads and hear and believe the words that he spoke. The prayer went something like this:
"God, I recognize that I have not lived my life for You up until now. I have been living for myself and that is wrong. I need You in my life; I want You in my life. I acknowledge the completed work of Your Son Jesus Christ in giving His life for me on the cross at Calvary, and I long to receive the forgiveness you have made freely available to me through this sacrifice. Come into my life now, Lord. Take up residence in my heart and be my king, my Lord, and my Savior. From this day forward, I will no longer be controlled by sin, or the desire to please myself, but I will follow You all the days of my life. Those days are in Your hands. I ask this in Jesus' precious and holy name. Amen."
While he was saying the prayer, I wanted and expected to feel something. I tried to hear what he said and apply it to my life. I tried to accept Jesus and wanted to feel him in my heart. I looked over at my friend who was across the circle from me, and saw that she was weeping. I knew that she must have felt Jesus in her, but I was upset because I didn't really feel any different. The prayer soon ended, and I knew that I was now saved. I knew if I died that night, that I would now be admitted to Heaven rather than Hell. Thanks to listening to the speaker recite the salvation prayer, I now could have an eternal afterlife of bliss.We left the room and returned to the pews, socializing for an hour or two before finally going to sleep on the floor of the church.
Soon after this experience, I realized that religion had too many holes in it for my increasingly scientific mind, and I declared myself an Atheist. I recently resumed contact with my old friend who wept during the same "salvation prayer" ceremony. She told me that she no longer believed in the Bible or church, nor the definition of God given by most religious organizations. Its just strange how an event that seemed so important and significant in both of our lives at the time is now just a laughable memory of our past.
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