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The Freedom to Raise My Hand

Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

The stained glass window in our church

The stained glass window in our church

As I stood there singing a song I’d heard all my life, suddenly the words took on new meaning. I gripped the pew in front of me. Sweat beaded on my forehead. My heart beat wildly as the compassionate eyes of Jesus in the stained glass window drew me toward him. Before I knew it, I was walking the aisle of my church to confirm once and for all I was going to heaven. Everything else seemed to fade into the background as I held steadfast in my decision to determine that day if I would spend eternity with my heavenly Father.

I had made the same walk when I was a little girl of seven—heart pounding in my chest and tears streaming down my face—as the invitation was given. I didn’t understand everything that was happening; I just knew I couldn’t leave church that night without telling Preacher Jim I wanted to be saved. I was terrified at the thought of going home without making that commitment.

But I was even more afraid of walking down front by myself. For some reason my parents weren’t there that night; only my six-year-old little brother, Ricky, and me. I begged him to walk with me. He didn’t want to, but I convinced him to do it anyway. We walked down together, everyone assuming both of us were making a commitment.

After the service, I remember Preacher Jim dialing our home and handing the phone to me so I could tell Daddy the

Ricky and me

Ricky and me at six and seven years old

good news. I couldn’t even speak. All I could do was cry into the phone.

Ricky and I were baptized shortly thereafter. No one questioned the state of our salvation.

No one but us, that is.

I didn’t think about it much during my childhood years, but when I became a teenager I began questioning whether or not I’d made a real commitment as a child. After all, what major transformation can a seven-year-old have? It tormented me, but I’d never had the courage to talk about it openly.

It seemed every time we had a revival service, the pastor would always end the message by asking everyone the question I hated most. “With every head bowed and every eye closed, if you were to die tonight, raise your hand if you know you would go to heaven.”

The majority of the congregation always seemed so sure as they lifted their hands. I knew because I always peeked around as I struggled to decide if I was worthy of raising my hand, if I had truly been saved that day.

This question became an albatross, weighing more heavily on me as time passed.

Then one ordinary Sunday morning when I was about 28 years old, we had a visiting pastor. His style of preaching

Me at 28 yeras old with Elise

Me at 28 years old with Elise

reminded me so much of Preacher Jim that I became like a little girl again, drawn to this man of God.

When the invitation was given, I finally broke free of my fear and made my way to the front of the church, sobbing and spilling my doubts to this pastor. I was ashamed I’d carried this secret so long.

When I was finished, he had me sit down while he concluded the service. This wasn’t our normal protocol. I was expecting to be taken out to speak with someone, not take a seat on the front row in the sanctuary. Mortified, I wanted to run out. Instead, I sat down and felt as if the eyes behind me were boring into the back of my head. My husband’s parents were in that service. What would they think of me?

I felt someone sit down beside me. Looking up, I saw Julie, a girl from my youth group. We were never close and I didn’t realize she’d even begun coming back to our church after leaving several years prior. Even so, her presence was the comfort I needed at that moment.

After the service the pastor took me to the choir room to talk. Julie walked with me, but left when I was safely tucked out of everyone’s view.

I poured out my heart to this sweet man, telling him I didn’t want to leave without knowing for sure I was saved. He looked at me tenderly and said, “Romans 10 verses 9 and 13 say ‘if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved… Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Still looking into my eyes, he said, “Carol, I believe you did make a real commitment that day and Satan has kept you bound all these years because of your doubt.”

Those simple words destroyed the wall that had been separating me and God for years.

I walked out of that room free of any doubt that I would one day meet Jesus in heaven. Once I confirmed my salvation, it was as if the floodgates of the Holy Spirit’s storehouse opened and God began using me in ways I never thought possible. Satan had been having a heyday over my doubt and God couldn’t use me because of it. Now I have the blessed assurance of Jesus that allows me the freedom to raise my hand without fear.

The only thing weighing me down after that was knowing my brother never made a true commitment when we were kids. I felt guilty, worrying he’d never make that decision, and began praying fervently for his salvation. About one year later he told me he’d recently given his heart to Jesus during a revival service. Hallelujah! He hasn’t been the same since, because he’s been touched by God’s grace, just as I have.

Free to raise my hand

If you’re questioning your salvation, don’t wait another day to find out once and for all where you stand. Don’t let Satan win this all-important battle for your soul and the power to influence God’s kingdom through Christ working in your life. I’ve never doubted my salvation since that day over 20 years ago. It may seem frightening to reveal your fear to others, but I can testify to the fact that you will never regret it. In fact, I believe you’ll be blown away, just as I’ve been, by the awesome blessings God has in store for you.

12 Comments

  1. Dear Carol,
    Thank you for this stirring and spell binding testimony. Absolutely wonderful! I love you1 Margie

    • Thank you, Margie! Your words always encourage me. I love you, too!

  2. Such Big Hair!!!!! How much product did that take!!!!

    Just Messing with you! What a beautiful message. Doubt is one of Satan’s biggest weapons. I’m glad you included Ricky’s adult decision. You are a gifted writer.

    • It was the 90’s Frieda! I didn’t realize how big my hair was until I blew that picture up 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by and for being such a good friend!

  3. Excellent message, Carol. I too went through a period of doubt, but was reassured by the Holy Spirit that my salvation is real. Whether we ask a preacher or God, we will receive the answer we seek. For we are promised in Matthew 7:7-8 and Luke 11:9-10 that whenever we ask, we will receive the answer from our Lord.

    • That’s right, Bruce. I know we can make the decision without the benefit of counsel, but in my situation I felt it was the only way to resolve it. Thanks so much for stopping by!

      • Don’t misunderstand me. You did the right thing. I didn’t have anyone to counsel me at the time of my doubt. So, God stepped in. God bless you for having the courage to seek confirmation and for sharing.

        • Isn’t it amazing, Bruce, how God can take each of our situations and meet us right where we are? I just love how He does that! Thanks so much for commenting 🙂

  4. This is great. Way to be real and transparent.

    • Thanks, Tim! It’s not always easy to be open about things like this, but I’m hoping it will encourage someone in the same situation.

  5. Hi Sweet Friend,

    Great, touching, testimony, that I’m sure will touch all who read it. It did me! Thanks for sharing. Miss you!

    Blessings,
    Danie

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