|Suzy Fitch - Marion, Iowa|
There were many transitions in my thought process that had to take place in my experience before I could first understand what salvation was. Because I was accustomed to religious traditions, over half of this testimony describes how I came to know that I was, indeed, without salvation. The first step of being found is finding where you are…and I was surely lost.
“To be conscious that you are ignorant of the facts is a great step to knowledge.”
~ English Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli
I was brought up attending Methodist church where the rapture seemed to be something that would happen a long time in the future – not something that could happen at any time. In fact, I remember that I never knew WHY Jesus was going to come back to this earth. I just knew that Jesus would return to earth someday. I remember going to seminars where you could ask Jesus into your heart. The word “saved” was never used, and the speakers never said that it had anything to do with assurance of a home in heaven or the forgiveness of sins – just a relationship with Christ, which I didn’t understand. There were many people that seemed to believe that if you go to church, believe there is a God, and try to be a good person, you are automatically going to heaven, or at least you hope to be. I was told by my Sunday school teacher that Jesus forgives my sins past, present, and future. I was never told that I needed to accept Christ as my Savior for Him to do so. The accepted mentality was that everyone would be in heaven because God is good and loves everyone no matter what they’ve done in life.
As a young child, I believed there was a God, and that the Bible was His written Word. My parents had taught me the importance of prayer and reading the Bible, even though we never had a daily family devotion time. When I went to college, I made a personal commitment to read at least one chapter of the Bible every night, simply because I believed it was a good thing to do.
The fall semester of 1995, brought much soul-searching. College is a time of choice – classes, careers, boyfriends, activities. I remember praying that God would lead the way. “Lord, I’m not sure where my life is going. Please lead me. I want to make the right choices, and be happy.” I wondered how God and “church” would fit into my life.
“But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul.” Deut 4:29.
Around this time of searching, I met Jon Fitch and everything began to change. He was the nicest guy I had ever met in my life! There was just something different about him. One day, while we were studying together in my dorm room, Jon noticed I had a Bible at my bedside, and a Christian music CD in my collection. I told him that I read my Bible every night, and that the CD was something I bought at a church camp I attended the summer before I went to college. Jon looked very amazed. He suddenly seemed interested, and eventually got up the nerve to ask if I was “saved”. I didn’t exactly know how to answer that question. I had heard the word before, but didn’t know how it applied to me. I told Jon that I thought I was saved and going to heaven. The next day I called my mom, and asked her if my Confirmation into the Methodist Church at the age of 11 meant that I was “saved”. She said it was. However, I did not think my confirmation changed me at all. I tried not to let it bother me, but I was feeling confused because I couldn’t understand why Jon had a date and personal experience for his salvation, and I did not.
Memorial Day weekend was Omaha Bible Conference and my first trip to meet Jon’s family. Sunday evening, I attended my first Gospel meeting. I didn’t think the Gospel message was anything different than what I was used to hearing. But I do remember thinking that some of the things they were saying seemed different. I had heard the Bible verses before, but it was presented in a clearer way. However, I was not troubled at all by what I heard.
Special Gospel meetings began in Robins, IA in June 1996 with Al Christopherson and Eric McCullough, and Jon made every effort to take me to them. I still didn’t understand what the word “saved” meant. I was trying to discover the time in my past when I was saved, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.
On July 10th, 1996, Al handed me a Gospel tract as I shook his hand after the meeting. He said, “I picked this one up for you.” I said thanks and shoved it into my pocket and purposely took my mind off the subject. I didn’t read it until the next morning while I was at work. I pulled it out when I had a chance and casually started skimming it over. “How I Tried The 5 C’s.” It was Henry Pickering’s personal testimony about how his experience with Christening, the Choir, Confirmation, and Communion did not make him fit for heaven. Every word I read was exactly my story and matched how I felt. I began to realize that there was something I was lacking.
I refused to think more about it until I got into my car later that day. By chance, the Christian radio station was playing a certain song about being saved (“God Got A Hold On Me” by Goeff Moore). I really wanted to know for sure if I was saved. As I waited at a stoplight, I realized for the first time that if I didn’t know for sure if I was truly saved, then I was obviously NOT saved!
On Sunday, July 14, 1996 at the gospel meeting in Robins, Al gave me a few more tracts to read. To my bewilderment, I still wasn’t saved. Monday morning, I was very soul-troubled. At the meeting that night, I listened intently, just like I had done for the last week – just waiting for Al to tell me what to do to be saved. I liked it when he would tell a story about how someone got saved. I thought that was a good way for me to figure out how to get saved myself, but it never seemed to help. When I would read my Bible, I knew all of the verses that were preached about salvation. They were so familiar, but I didn’t understand how to be saved. I spoke with Al after everyone else had left. He gave me another Gospel tract, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment”. When I got home, I sat down on my bed and prayed and asked the Lord to save me. I stopped trying so hard, and began reading the tract with an open heart and mind. What I read seemed to speak to my situation and answer some of my questions. John 6:47 was quoted and I underlined it thinking that it seemed like a very simple verse. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believeth on me, hath everlasting life”. The author then gave an illustration which is paraphrased here:
“If someone, who was the town gossip, came to your door and told you that the station master has been killed that night at the railway, would you believe what they said? No! Why not? Because of the lack of credibility of the person who is telling you the information. Now, if the most trusted source in town came to your door and told you that the station master had died, would you believe them? Yes! Why? Because of who is telling you the information.”
I thought of the words in the verse I had just read (John 6:47). The words “on me” stuck out, and I read them over and over. I thought about how I had always believed in God and understood that His written Word was true. I suddenly realized that I could trust what that verse says! I have everlasting life! I finally understood it! Christ died for my sins, and therefore I have eternal life with Him. BECA--USE GOD SAYS SO!
I must say that one of the key verses that spoke to me during those months of my life was Matthew 7:14, “Because straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” This verse scared me out of my wits! It helped me realize that maybe I wasn’t saved. I had grown up placing myself in the large crowd of “good” people who (thought they) were going to heaven. I began to see that this crowd could not be “few there be that find it”. This was a crucial realization for me.
I love the words in Deuteronomy 4:29 (which I quoted earlier), “But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” I believe my story proves the words in that verse. I was definitely seeking! I see things differently now. The same Bible verses that I had heard over and over while I was growing up, now paint different pictures in my mind. They stand out as if I had never realized the true meaning before. “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.” John 9:24
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