The Personal Testimony of Tina Thorne

Growing up at Grace Baptist Church is all I’ve ever known.  However, even with such love and grace surrounding me I still chose to turn to the world and not to God as a young teenager.  Growing up with knowing the bible is true, that God is real, and that his presence can be felt still did not convince the rebel in me to not wander away from what is true and right.  When I was 15 my parent s separated and I chose to live with my dad who didn’t want God over my mother who did.  I thought I would love getting to live the way I wanted and not go to church.  If you want to leave God and go out into the world and scar your life up you can.  Because it is your choice, you can choose to go with God at an early age or just be a stubborn rebellious person who will always have to live with scars from the world like I do.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that the world was not all it’s cracked up to be.  It is cruel, hating, and ultimately wants to take everything good away from you.  Thankfully God wasn’t done with me and my parents got back together for a short time before they ultimately separated for good.  When my mom came back I had had enough of the world after only a short few months. I started coming back to Grace.  Grace a church that is the pure definition of love.  They welcomed me back with open arms and loved me greatly.  I will never forget Bro. Mark and Temple who showed the greatest love for a rebellious teenager. 

                  As I got back into the routine of life back at church I really began to search for God.  I began to realize that God was real and that I wanted to be right with him.  I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt who I was and the sinful person who was always inside of me.  A few months before I got saved one Sunday morning God showed up and saved Mrs. Patsy Owen.  That was the first time that someone’s salvation had meant so much to me.  When she got saved it reassured the knowledge that I had grown up with that God saves people.  Her salvation was so evident that I knew that God was moving and still saving people.  It helped me have enough faith to keep searching for God.

                  There were a couple of times that I had went down to the alter when I had felt God heavy on me but I never knew for certain that God was there and could believe.  Those times did however help me in moving towards God.  I knew that I would have to keep trying to find him.  One Sunday morning during Sunday school I got upset over something dumb.  As Sunday school dismissed I knew I had to get over being mad or there was no way I was going to be able to hear what God was going to say through Bro. Terry in church. Bro. Terry finally began to preach.  He began by saying that a lot of things could hold one back from getting saved.  Bro. Terry named off a list of things.  I knew from sermons before that he preached that things could hold one back.  One thing that he renamed off that could do this was pride.  Pride was one of my problems.  He said that pride would hold you back from being humble, which was the only way you could come to God.  Another thing that could hold you back is your own imagination.  When Bro. Terry began to tell how your imagination could be holding you back, it was like he was telling my life story.  He said that you could imagine how you would get saved and that if you it didn’t happen just exactly right then you could not get saved.  I had always pictured myself getting saved.  I knew that this was wrong before then, but I still imagined. I understood fully then that my main problem that was holding me back was my imagination. One thing that he said that caught me completely off guard was that if we were not careful (the lost) that a stranger could come in here and obtain salvation before we could.  That thought tore me up.  I became immediately afraid that that would occur.  I did not want anyone to get saved before me.  I wanted it for myself and not anyone else.  He ended by saying that he would come back that night and tell how to let go what was holding one back.

                  After church was over and I got home from church, I started to read my bible in the book of Psalms.  It seemed as though every verse I read that afternoon said to trust God.  I have always had a problem trusting really anyone.  I did not know how to trust.  God was telling me pretty plainly to trust him.  Two verses that stuck with me were Psalms 31:1-2 which say, “In the, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.  Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defense to save me.”  Lostness began to sink in.  I started to realize who I exactly was and it scared me to death.  I realized that I was an enemy of God and a stranger.  I began to see that God was being hid from me.  I just started to cry and weep over not wanting to be an enemy of God any longer.  I wanted to be a friend and a daughter.  I realized that I could not go on.  I could not go another day without being saved.

                  When I got to church, and Bro. Terry started to tell how to let go of what could be holding you back.  He began to say that you had to be right with God.  I was totally thrown off key with this.  I thought that he was going to say how to let go of what was holding you back.  He then began to say that you needed to want to be right with God.  I started to agree in my heart with what Bro. Terry was saying.  He said that to be right with God that you had to trust that Christ’ dying was enough.  This hit me hard.  I did not know how to trust.  I was struggling with understanding that.  He went on to explain why if you were lost that you needed to want to be right with God.  That was the only way that you could be saved, was to want to be right.  The sermon continued and I continued to agree with what Bro. Terry was saying.

                  Bro. Terry began to end the sermon.  I started to get nervous because I knew I had to do something with what I heard that day and I did not want to go home not saved.  Bro. Terry began to pray and Mrs. Barbara Grapp started to cry.  When she began to cry the whole church broke.  When she broke it gave me the liberty to brake.  I did not have the courage to stop everything and start crying. I began to tell God that I did not know what was going on inside of me.  I just did not know anything.  I did know that I did not want to leave church that night without being right.  I continued to just cry.  I wanted Bro. Terry to come and talk to me, so that I might be able to figure out what was going on inside of me.  I finally heard Bro. Terry’s voice.  I did not want to look up and see where he was because I did not want to leave where I was spiritually.  I, however, looked up and saw that he was talking to Caleb.  I felt discouraged for just a split second before the thought that I could just go to Jesus’ feet came to me.  I got down out of my chair and just laid my head on my chair.  I continued to cry.  I do not know a time frame of how long I had been there before Bro. Terry came over to talk to me.

                  He asked me what was going on with me.  I replied that I did not know what exactly was going on.  He then asked if I knew that God was there.  I said yes because I knew I could feel God’s presence.  He then asked if God was there for me.  When he said that, I realized that he was and I believed with everything in me that he was.  At that time God took me back and showed me that he had always loved me, that he was the loving Father that I never had, that he would take care of me, and that he just loved me….who I really was.  He was everything that I needed him to be for me and more.  I started thanking God for who he was for me and just loving him back.  When you realize that someone loves you…the you that no one else ever sees or knows how you cannot love someone back. That’s how I felt, the God of the Universe loved me, and how could I not love him back.  I began to thank God that he was there for me and that he was my Father.  Bro. Terry then said that I should just rest in that.  When he said that I could rest in that, I had enough faith to believe in that.  I rested with everything in me.  I felt like I was just going to fall back physically.  All my tears and all the turmoil that was going on inside me just quit.  Everything left and there was peace.  Bro. Terry left me there and went back up to the front.  I got up from where I was at and just sat down in my seat.  I had no clue what had just happened to me.  I asked myself, “Did I just get saved?”  I was afraid to answer myself. After a time everything in me was calm, all the heaviness and turmoil that I had been feeling that afternoon was gone.  I didn’t know exactly what happened but I knew something was different.  Church finally ended and I went to talk about what happened to Bro. Terry.  I was trying to understand what had just happened and whether or not that I trusted God to save me.  I knew above all else I wanted to be right with God. Just to be right and no longer wrong with God.  He asked me was I right with God now and as I looked back on what happened I knew that I was.  That everything was alright now…I wasn’t an enemy anymore. Bro. Terry said well that was trusting God and it hit me.  God had just saved me and I knew it.  The story of the prodigal son who returns home to his father’s house and is received and forgiven is the story of my life.  I do not doubt the father’s love for me as I showed back up and he wrapped his loving arms around me.