- Parent Category: History
- Category: Personal Stories
- Published on Thursday, 26 October 2006 18:24
Mary Ellen Clark - McKeesport, Pennsylvania
As a child, I learned truths from the Bible. I learned what sin was-disobeying God. I did not have a difficult time agreeing with God that I was a sinner. I knew that I had broken God’s law by disobeying my parents on occasion, telling lies, etc. Even though I tried to be a good little girl, I was aware that this was really an impossible task; in my heart, there was the desire to do what I wanted and not to please God. I learned that I was a living “soul” and that I would exist forever in either heaven or hell. I learned that I needed to be “saved” from my sins in order to be in heaven. If I didn’t get “saved”, the Bible taught that I would have to go to Hell and be punished forever for my sins. I used to lay awake at night and imagine what it would be like to wake up in Hell and know that there was no end to the torment and no end to the suffering. I wanted to be saved, but I could not understand how I would “know” for sure if I was. I knew the Lord Jesus Christ had suffered on the cross for sinners and that included me, but I did not know how you could be sure you were saved. I had tried to believe, tried to trust, tried to pray; I was working hard to obtain God’s salvation; I was doing my part, I thought, and then when it was right, God would do His part and I would have some sort of a confirmation that I was saved. This never happened. As a teenager, my own sinfulness was manifested further by the choices I made and the things I got into. At night, I would still think about my soul and where I would be if I died. People around me had no idea that I was concerned because I seemed so rebellious.
On Easter Sunday, March 26, 1978, my family attended a Bible conference in Manchester, Connecticut. Usually at similar conferences, I would sit with my teenage friends and sneak out of the meeting when my mother wasn’t looking. But this Sunday was different. During Sunday school, Mr. Murray McLeod had spoken on the Titanic. He had an illustration of the great ship and told the touching story of the lives that were lost. He was talking passionately about the only hope for rescue: the lifeboats. He was echoing the cries made on that fateful night. ”Get in the lifeboats! Get in the lifeboats!”, he mimicked. He used this to illustrate coming to the Lord Jesus for salvation. He is the only hope for being rescued from Hell and sin. I remember saying to myself, “I want to get in the lifeboat, but I don’t know how!” That same afternoon, as my friends all left the meeting, sneaking out to have a good time, I stayed in my seat and began taking notes on what the speakers were talking about. I wanted to have what these people had. I wanted to know that I was safe from ever being punished for my sins. I wanted to be sure I would be in heaven.
That night, it was announced that Mr. McLeod and Mr. Higgins (two evangelists) would be coming to the Torrington, CT. Gospel Hall for the gospel meeting. My mother drove us home in time to attend. I listened as Proverbs 27:1 was read, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth..” I trembled to think that I might miss my opportunity to be saved. The meeting ended and as I made my way out the door, I asked Mr. Higgins if I could stay behind and speak to him. I told him that I wanted to be saved.
As we sat on the bench in the back of the Gospel Hall, Mr. Higgins looked at me and said, “Mary Ellen, I don’t think you are ever going to get saved.” This terrified me! Imagine if this was true; even the preacher didn’t think I could be saved. He must be right! I sat there for a long time as he tried to explain salvation to me. He showed me so many verses from the Bible, but nothing gave me the assurance that I was longing for. Mr. Higgins finally got up and went downstairs to join other Christians in praying that God would save me. As I sat there alone, I thought to myself, “I am never going to get this. Even the preacher can’t help me. I will really end up in Hell." Then Mr. McLeod came upstairs and he talked with me and read me verses. I could not find anything that assured me I was forgiven. Later, Mr. Higgins came back up. They asked me to turn to the gospel of John, chapter 5 and verse 24. I read it: ”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” Mr. Higgins asked me where I would be if I died tonight? I told him I would be in Hell. He said “why?” I told him that I was not saved. He asked me why I wasn’t saved; what part of that verse did I not believe? As I read the words again, I realized that I had found what I was looking for. I could go to heaven because God had given me His Word, His promise, “has eternal life." I could rest on what God had said and that was enough!! I looked at Mr. Higgins and I said, “Is that all that you have?" And then to Mr. McLeod and said “and is that all that you have?” They were resting on what God had said about what the Lord Jesus had done at the cross. He had satisfied God when He suffered for my sins. God accepted His Son’s payment and credited my account. The work was done more than 2000 years ago and His Word is my receipt. How wonderful it was to be able to rest on His unchanging Word.
“In hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie promised…” Titus 1:2