Doris Swartz Pt. 1 – How I Traded Fear For Peace

 

HOW I TRADED FEAR FOR PEACE

I was born into a hard working farm family in the early 1930’s.  My parents took my sister and me to church until a new baby was born into the family.  I was six years old when she came.  After that, we rarely went to church.

My parents were religious, moral, decent people.  But that is a far cry from being Christian.  When my Mom was deeply concerned about some circumstance in her life, she would gather us girls about her on the bed, and she would read the Bible to us.  That was about the only time the Bible was taught in our home by my parents.

I appreciate one thing my Dad did though:  he would turn on the radio on Sunday, (maybe not every Sunday) and we heard Bible preaching.  My parents let us go to Daily Vacation Bible School, but that wasn’t every year. I don’t remember much of what I was taught there, if I was taught the Gospel message, it didn’t penetrate my understanding.

Even though there was not much Bible teaching in our home, my parents did their best to teach us to be diligent workers, to be honest, truthful, and also to fear God.  Somehow, I knew about Jesus and that there was a God. I knew that He died on the cross for us.  I also knew that there was a heaven and a hell.  I knew that some people were not ready to meet God, and that I was one of them.  I also knew that Jesus would come someday, and that it could happen at any time.

My parents did not have much Bible understanding – they probably were not taught it, though my Dad’s parents were somewhat religious.  I don’t know about my Mom’s parents.  I know now that being religious is not the same as having put one’s hope in Jesus for salvation, but back at that time, I thought a person had to be good and do good things in order to be saved. There were times I wondered, “Why did Jesus have to die on the cross when we had to be good in order to go to heaven”?

I was about eight when the Jews began to migrate back into their homeland.  My Mom said that soon the end of the world would come. When she told me this, I knew I was not ready for Jesus to come back.  I knew that I was a sinner, and that I would go to hell.  That caused great anguish of soul for me.  Many nights, before going to sleep, I would pray, “Jesus, please don’t come back tonight”.

About this time, when I was somewhere between 6 and 8 years old, I had a dream.  In my dream, I was swinging on a tire swing hung from a tree in the orchard that was north of our house.  I looked toward the east, and there was Jesus coming across the field towards me.  He was coming to take me to heaven.  I said to him that I hadn’t done anything; meaning that I had not done anything to make me ready for heaven.   In my dream, Jesus said to me, “You don’t have to”.

I didn’t know it at that time, but that is the truth.  I didn’t have to do any good thing to be ready for Jesus to take me to heaven, because Jesus did it for me.  He paid for all my sins when he gave His blood as He died on the cross, taking all of my punishment for all the sins I have and will yet commit.  I would only have to put my trust in Him.

I remember one night, about this same time, I came downstairs from my attic bedroom.  I wanted my Mom to help me get saved.  She knew what I wanted, but did not know how to help me.

Some years passed.  I got married at the age of 17, and I was still burdened about my lost condition.  Sometimes I would cry to my husband about it. One time he told me that he was going to hell.

He wasn’t saved either.  That fear of not being saved never left me.  Fear is an awful thing to live with.

On one occasion, my husband and I went to a family reunion.  There was a missionary there (a third cousin), who had gone to Africa.  He was the speaker at that gathering.  He preached a very convicting message about salvation.  But, I still didn’t know how to get saved.  I still thought I had to be good – which I knew I wasn’t.  I remember going to bed at night and not being able to sleep well.

Three little girls were born to our family, our first one lived only 24 hours. Still both my husband and I were in our lost condition.  I remember one day as I was running to the mailbox at the roadway, a chilling thought came to me, if I don’t get saved, all my descendants will go to hell.

God has a way of working things out for His glory and our good.

A country church, about 20 miles away, had some money designated for missions.  There was a man in that church who thought it would be good to start a church in Wichita, Kansas with that money.  The plan was that after the church was established, the membership would be missions minded, and eventually the amount of money used to build the new church would be given to missions.  That was a good plan.

So the piece of property was bought, and the work began.  First, the men had to prepare the ground for the building.  Then, my Dad was contacted to help because he had some heavy equipment.  He told them about his daughter that lived near there. One of the men responsible for starting the new church visited me and invited us to come to their new church.  I don’t remember my response, but I think I didn’t take the invitation very seriously.

Later, after the church was built, they called a young man to serve as pastor.  This new church was a Bible church, there was no denominational affiliation.  One evening the young pastor and his wife came to call on us and invited us to come to church.

We promised that we would come the next Sunday.  But, the next Sunday our two little girls had whooping cough.  We didn’t go to church.  It was about six weeks later that I saw the pastor’s wife in the grocery store.  I told her that we still planned to come to church.  What I didn’t know was that during these weeks, the people of that church were fervently praying for us, and for our salvation.

Finally, the day came that I actually went to that little church, taking my 3 year old daughter with me.  My husband stayed at home with the other little girl who was only about a year old.  I think it was the second Sunday that I went to the church that I was so convicted of my need that I cried. One of the hymns sung was, “T’is so Sweet to Trust in Jesus”.  I thought to my self, “Yes, it would be sweet to trust in Jesus”.  After church, as I was leaving, the pastor’s wife met me and wanted to talk to me.  She understood what my need was without my telling her.  I didn’t want to talk to her, I gave the excuse that I needed to get my little girl home.

After lunch that day, my husband decided to take a hog to the market. That was so unlike him to do such a thing on Sunday.  I had one fear that if I made this decision to become a Christian, my husband would be so displeased that he would leave me.

After the little girls had been put to bed for their afternoon nap, I made my choice. . . I knew I was a sinner, I had to be saved.  I knelt beside my bed and prayed.  I still didn’t know how to get saved, but I surrendered my heart to God for salvation.  I prayed the only thing I knew.  I asked the Lord to make me His vessel.  I got up from my knees, and picked up my Bible, one that my husband had given me as a gift on our first wedding anniversary.  I turned to the concordance in the back of the Bible and looked up the word, “salvation”.  I found that salvation is of the Lord.  I thought that maybe I was saved, but wasn’t certain.  I still don’t know for sure that I was saved at that time.

Very soon after that I learned that there is only one way to be saved from the punishment we deserve for having sinned. Salvation comes only when one puts all of his trust in the Lord Jesus Christ who paid the penalty for our sin when He shed His blood, and died on the cross.

I Corinthians 15:3, 4; “. . . how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.”  

Whether I was saved at that time or not, God knows, but I do know this. The Lord took me at my word, that I wanted to be His vessel, and led me to understand the way of salvation in the days that followed.

The next Sunday our little family went to church.  I told the pastor’s wife what I had done, about my uncertainty about my salvation, and about what I had found in the Scriptures.  She said that she believed that I really was saved.  On that day the pastor and his wife invited our little family to come to their house for dinner on the following Friday.  I was delighted for us to accept that invitation, I had many questions that needed answers.

During that week many changes happened in my life.  The next day after that prayer of surrender, I felt that my world was like an oasis after having been in the desert.  My mouth got cleaned up.  No more minced oaths, no foul language of any kind.  My radio became “sanctified”, no more soap operas, just preaching and Christian music.

Through the preaching which I heard on the radio, many of my questions were answered.  But one question was heavy on my mind, and when we were at dinner at the pastor’s home I asked, “Now that I am saved, can I lose my salvation”?  I wanted to know if I had to work to keep my salvation by doing good deeds, or could I work for Jesus just to please Him. The answer was in the form of a parable.  I was told that when I was saved, the heavenly Father was now my Father.

God has chosen that analogy of His relationship with His children.  A man who is the father of a child, can disown the child, abandon him, or whatever, but he can never deny the fact that he is still that child’s father. That fact of fatherhood cannot be changed.  Since God is my Father now, He will always be my father.

The truth that God will always be the Father of those who have trusted Jesus for their salvation, is a good analogy.  However, I would rather depend on the Scriptures.  These especially:

Romans 6:23; “. . . the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eternal life is life that endures forever.  If I have eternal life, I can not lose it since it is eternal.  If I could lose it, then obviously I never had it.

Here is another passage that showed me that our salvation is an eternal one:

I John 5:11,12;  “And this is the record that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son [Jesus Christ]. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” 

If you have Jesus, you have eternal life.  If you don’t have eternal life it is because you do not have Jesus.

I have been a joyfully born-again Christian going on sixty years now.  It has been so wonderful to be free of that awful fear that plagued me all those early years.  The peace and joy that Jesus has given me has been priceless.

Dear reader, do you have this same joy and confidence?  It can be yours, too.

Respectively,

Doris Swartz
©2013 Mark Davis

Related Articles:

A Letter To A Young “Bride-To-Be”

Doris Swartz Pt. 2 – How God Led Me To Work With Children

Suggested Reading:

If You’re Dead – Now What?

How Many Ways Are There To Get To Heaven?

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9 Comments

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