I think I honestly went down front to get out of children’s church. I didn’t want to be in children’s church at that time. When I got into the youth ministry and went on my first youth retreat and started hearing all of the people sharing their testimonies and their stories about what God was doing in their life, I started to know there was a void there. There was something not right.
I remember it vividly when I was sixteen years old and God hit me upside the head with that, that; “You know, I’m right here. You need to accept me as your Lord and Savior and quit messing around because I know you’re a good boy. I know you’re a good kid but you’re lost as could be.” Because as good of a kid as I was, not running around or causing my parents any shame or things. I was as lost as the worst sinner was.
So, from the moment I realized it was probably six months that I struggled with that decision knowing that I needed to make things right and give my life to Christ. I got to thinking back to when I was eight years old and I never prayed and asked Christ to come into my heart. At eight years old, I “joined” the church. I became a “wet Baptist.” I was baptized but never prayed and asked Christ to come into my heart, never made it personal with me.
And so you would think anyone with any kind of common sense or any kind of wits about them would know that they needed to take care of that and I did but I was scared. I was afraid to step up in front of this church with all of these people, these adults that had been praying with me and working with me. I had led other boys and girls to Christ myself. I had worked at boys camps.
So it got so bad that I would sit there and say; “Okay”(I was singing in the adult choir at that time, at sixteen years old) I remember sitting there thinking; “Okay, if we sing this many verses of the invitation hymn, then I will go down front and give my life to Christ. Or I would start to make other excuses like; “well, you know, my grandparents aren’t here. It would be real special to them if they were here when I made that decision.” Well, every time I would leave the worship service on Sunday mornings without making that decision, it felt like I had a ton of concrete and bricks just right on my shoulders.
So, one Sunday, months later, I’m there in the old choir and we’re singing “Just as I am” probably, one of those invitation hymns. All I knew was at that point in time if I did not give my life to Christ if I did not make it right, make it personal, make it real that my heart felt like it was just going to jump out of my chest. So I walked down the steps from the choir loft down the steps to the alter. New pastor, Pastor Bill Sullivan was there at the time and he turned around and he stuck his hand out at me and I remember walking right by him with his hand out and I kneeled at the alter because it wasn’t between me and him. It wasn’t between me and anybody else. It was just between me and the Lord. My high school Sunday school teacher came, knelt down and prayed with me. He didn’t know what was going on. As I got done I just kind of looked at him and I said; “Paul, I just gave my life to Christ.” He was thrilled, a little shocked I could tell, but thrilled. So I stood up and we went and talked to Pastor Bill and everything. He prayed with me and spun me around. These people much older now came and hugged me and everything. I was so afraid that they were going to be mad at me because I had been lying to them all this time. But that was just something the devil was trying to trick me over and he did for a while, for eight years.
So I made a profession of faith or some decision when I was eight years old. It’s real now. It’s true now.