I have been set free. I was once a slave to the things of Satan's world: idolatry, astrology, witchcraft. I was in the grip of the devil, I didn't even know that I was doing anything wrong.
I was miserable at that time in my life. I hated everyone and everything. No one could get through to me. I was so angry with the way the world treated me that I began to rebel against society. I wore mismatched clothes on purpose and fought with teachers. I picked up habits that were not the norm for someone my age. I read the horospcopes almost religiously. I read books on witches and spells. I had a book in which I wrote spells and cast them on people. I used old rings and wooden figures as tokens. If someone was mean to me, or upset me in any way, I would put a curse on them.
Romans 16:20 "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet."
The summer before I started 7th grade, I think, my mom demanded that I go to this "youth group" in a nearby town. It was summer, I was a brat, I wanted to play with the neighbors, so I threw a fit. She made me come with her anyway. We got there just after it had ended. I was expressively relieved. I got introduced to the youth leader, a hick ditch walker named John. He talked to me about all the fun stuff they did, how I just missed the volleyball tournament, blah blah blah... which suited me just fine as part of my plan was to abstain from sports.
The next week, my mom dragged me to a friend's house where her parents had volunteered their house for the youth group summer quarters. There was football, and lots of people, and they all looked like they were having a great time. So I hitched up my baggy yellow pants, tucked the pound of necklaces inside my shirt and began to play. I was very small, and I ended up just getting dirty.
When everyone was tired, John settled us down on the porch. He asked us if there was anything we wanted to pray about. Pray? In front of people? For things that are actually going on, not just "Don't let anything bad happen, Amen"? He made us go in a circle. I just said something that the others said, I don't remember what. I didn't even feel God listening to me, I was just fitting in.
Acts 5:29 "Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!'"
The turning point came on an October evening that year. A girl named Heidi had a dad who was in the hospital in a coma, and we prayed for healing on him. We went ouside to play in the church parking lot when a van drove up. The mother of Heidi's best friend stepped out. Heidi ran over to her, and burst into tears. We were lead inside to the sanctuary. John told us that Heidi's dad was a Christian man, he knew where he was going, and he wasn't afraid. He offered the sinner's prayer:
Lord, I know that I am a sinner, and I don't deserve the life that you gave me. I accept you as my Lord and Savior, and I know that you died on a cross to pay for my sins. Thank you, Lord.
I quietly prayed that prayer, but without really feeling it in my heart. John asked for a raising of hands of who had prayed that for the first time. I was too scared to raise my hand. I didn't want to be singled out. I didn't want people to notice me. I walked out of the the sancuary and I heard him speaking to the few kids who had been brave enough to stand up. My heart aching with shame, I left.
Deuteronomy 31:8 "The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
I waited outside the church for about 15 minutes for my mom to come and get me. Some one had just died, and I was feeling awful. The conviction hadn't hit me yet that Jesus was here to help me. John came outside to keep me company. "You know, it is a really sad thing, but as Christians we have to know that he's going to a better place, to live with God forever. He knew that, without a doubt, and it didn't worry him." John yammered on for a good five minutes. I thought, Shut up, John. Youth group is over now, you don't need to preach to me. I didn't say anything. My mom drove up, and I jumped into the car and rode away.
Lying in bed that night, I began to pray, really pray for the first time. I thought about what John had said, He knew where he was going. And I didn't. I had no idea if I would end up in Heaven or hell if the same thing happened to me. I want to know where I'll go, Lord. I want to spend enternity close to you and knowing you. I acknowledge you as my Lord and Savior. You are God, and I know that you died to save me.
Psalm 34:17-18 "The righteous cry out and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."