Fall Testimony Series 2023 Day 4 – Joan Harvey’s Testimony
I can’t remember the first time I really understood that God loved me. I was raised in a Christian home where I was saturated with the truth from God’s Word through dinner conversations, sermons, prayers and songs. I was told that God loved me, and yet it wasn’t something I personally understood or appreciated. Likewise, I was told I was a sinner and that my sin separated me from God, and that if my sin wasn’t forgiven, I would be eternally separated from Him. I wanted to be saved and have a personal relationship with God, but it was a mystery to me how to “get” it.
Looking back, I can see that there was a veil over my spiritual eyes that hindered my ability to grasp the truth of His love and my sinfulness. I knew that my parents’ greatest desire for me was that I be born again and yet they were so careful to not say too much to me, fearful that they may push me into a “false profession of salvation.” The Holy Spirit would often stir a longing in me to be saved and have peace with God. My biggest fear as a child was the thought of dying and going to Hell forever and never seeing my loved ones again. I remember times when I came home from school and my parents weren’t home—I was terrified the Lord had come and left me behind, never to be saved. The desire to be saved would come and go, and usually I would just wait for the feelings to pass and forget about it.
In the early spring of 1980, there was a gospel series in our local area every night at 7:30 pm. I was in Grade 5 at the time, and after a long day at school I often fell sound asleep during the service and paid very little attention to the message being preached. Around week six I suddenly had a deep desire to be saved. I expressed this to my parents, and my dad sat with me and tried pointing me to verses—truths from God’s Word—and asking me questions to make me think and see the truth from the Word. I was hopelessly lost and tried desperately for three days to make sense of it all. It was exhausting for my 10-year-old soul, and on the third night around 11 pm, alone in my room, I just gave up completely. I had tried as hard as I could but couldn’t figure out salvation, and so I began to try and think what it would mean to never be saved and then die and go to Hell. It was in those moments of desperation, through no particular Bible verse or prayer, that the truth came to me that I didn’t have to go to Hell because Jesus Christ had suffered for my sin on the cross and there was nothing more left for me to do but trust that work. What rest and joy it was in that moment to just simply trust Him to cleanse me and make me right with God.