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My Not-So-Good Salvation Experience

Running From Hell

Photo by Acton Craword on Unsplash

My first encounter

I first came to Christ at the age of five. I did not know the word “salvation” or understand concepts of heaven or hell, but I did know about love. I had loving, caring parents and siblings. I was secure and safe in my home, so it was easy to accept that Jesus loved me. I cried when I heard of the tremendous pain and suffering Jesus endured on the cross out of His love for me. I asked Him into the little door of my heart to be my lifelong friend. With big tears rolling down my cheeks, I went to my mommy and said, “I just asked Jesus into my heart.” She rolled her eyes and said to the lady next to her, “She is so young. You never know, but I guess she did.” And that was the end of that, or so I thought.

My second encounter

Later, when I was 12, I understood hell all too well. My dad preached it from the pulpit, as did most evangelical preachers. The invitation was a time at the end of the service where people could walk to the front of the church to make a public profession of their faith in Christ Jesus. Before the invitation, the preacher usually said something to this effect, “If you walk out of the door without accepting Christ, and you die, you will spend an eternity in a fiery hell where there will be no hope forever.”

I began to doubt my relationship with Christ. I became fearful, despondent, and withdrawn. Mom knew something was wrong because she could sense my depression. I didn’t know how to put the root of my problem into words. I was sick because I knew I might be going to hell. After all, how could I be sure I knew what I was doing at five? Even my mom displayed doubt in her initial reaction. But the thing that topped off my doubts was a harsh word from my dad when I teasingly called him an old fool. He whipped around and quoted the second half of Matthew 5:22,

But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.

That was it. My dad said it, and that was settled. I was a doomed little girl.

Jesus loved Judas, but I couldn’t grasp that Jesus loved Jenny. Neither could I comprehend the magnitude of this love. He never even condemned Judas but lovingly washed his feet with the full knowledge of his betrayal.

My third, forth, fifth . . .

So, during the invitations, I repeatedly walked down the aisle to accept Christ as my Savior. I asked for forgiveness for my sins, and I re-invited Him to come into my heart. It didn’t help. Why? Because I was not running to Christ, I was running from hell.

Something was very wrong with this picture.

Was the One who loved me at five years old now threatening, mean, and vengeful? Yes, I was coming to Him, but I was motivated by fear. I felt Jesus’ love for me was conditional, as if He said, “Do what I tell you, and I will love you eternally, but if you choose a different path, my love is gone from you forever.” I opened the door of my heart many times, but it was not with the same security I had at five years old. I was now cowering with trepidation. So my tortured mind led me to try something different as I walked yet again that center aisle trying to navigate salvation. I asked God to help me never to fear hell again. It was such a simple request but He answered this little girl’s prayer. It was His miraculous gift for me.

Fear simply changed places

Although, God dissuaded my fear of hell for me, the weight of others who were lost weighed heavy on my young shoulders. My soft heart could not bear the thought of friends, relatives, and loved ones who were on the broad path to hell to burn forever in an everlasting place of torment. I could not imagine that the deep, wide, high, and long love of God would not be in this place of no reconciliation. There would be only cries of pain forever with no hope. This good news was not so good. My fear simply changed places from myself to others.

So, when I was thirty-something, I walked that aisle and got baptized again. I don’t know how that helped the world, but something was still missing in my heart. It was peace. The hellish message was sowing seeds of fear, entitlement, sorrow, and unrest.

Was this what Jesus wanted for me?

After much prayer and study, God finally showed me His love on a level I had never seen before, even though it’s right there in the Bible.

I had a vision

As I earnestly prayed one day, God gave me a vision of His sacrifice. He stood about the whole earth as Christ, yet God, and bathed the planet in His blood. His blood poured from His hands, feet, and side to soak the earth in His grace. My eyes opened for the first time as I saw the magnitude of God’s sacrifice. I could finally grasp the fullness of His love.

I found that a hell, preached from the King James Verson of the Bible, was not as accurate as the hell from other translations, such as Young’s Literal Translation or Rotherham Translation. Eternal hell translated from the Greek means–age-during or age-abiding, correction. This means that correction serves a distinct purpose, and age-during means it has a specific age.

It would take years for God to reveal this truth to me. Suddenly everything made sense, and His blood did so much more. His grace and love were never contingent on anyone’s actions. He was not an angry God of vengeance that needed appeasing. It was our sinful nature that turned Him into a monster. We were His created children whom He always loved. There was nothing we could do to make Him love us more or less.

Romans 8:38–39 CEB

I’m convinced that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord: not death or life, not angels or rulers, not present things or future things, not powers or height or depth, or any other thing that is created.

My eyes could see through His transformational love lens. All would need to bathe in this love blood, yet no one could escape. I could understand that His love could indeed do all things. I could trust concerning His divine judgment. I fully grasp that His salvation had nothing to do with me but everything to do with Him. I was no different than the thief, the murderer, the prostitute. God loved us all passionately. We could not escape this love even if we deny it. We do not change His everlasting love, but this love does transform us. His grace and love give us hope for all creation as God puts everything under the feet of Jesus where every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

If salvation is not giving you peace, maybe something is wrong. If you aren’t looking at the security of God’s Word, keep reading.

Salvation fully understood

I could finally take a deep breath and relax in the true salvation of God. His message results in peace, joy, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Why? Because I am no longer running from hell and I am no longer aiming for heaven. Instead, I rest as this merciful, kind, loving, and perfect Savior cradles me and all creation in His arms.

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Jenny Calvert

Jenny Calvert

Jenny is published in The Secret Place, The Upper Room, Short and Sweet books, and Extinguishig the Spirit of Fear., and