CLEVELAND, Tenn. (BP)--Picture a 12-year-old boy, all alone in the midst of the greatest war the world has ever seen. A 12-year-old boy, in a frenzy to find anyone he knows. Every second of every minute of every day he hides from the evil ones that have come in search of blood. There is nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. All he can do is wait, wait for seven years and hope that he has a second chance. For nearly two years, I lived my life in fear that I would one day become this little boy.
Having been raised in a small, Southern Baptist church, I walked the aisle at the ripe old age of 7. I had seen my little sister walk the aisle a few months earlier, and I was a little embarrassed that she had made a decision before I had. I really wasn't sure what it meant to "make a decision," but I knew I wanted the attention that accompanied it. The pastor, who was also my grandfather, baptized me. I shook a few hands, I hugged some family members, and I went on with my life.
A few years went by, and I thought nothing more of my "decision." I played basketball and baseball, and I went to school. That was pretty much my life. Sure, I went to church every time the doors were open, but I did not do anything while I was there. I never read my Bible, I never praised God, and when I actually prayed, I did so because my family listened to me say my prayers before I went to sleep at night. I was not a Christian at all, but I was sure nothing bad would happen to me. After all, I had made a "decision."
Well, by the time I was 10, we had begun studying Revelation in our Royal Ambassadors group. Having never been exposed to this part of the Bible, Revelation, to me, read like a fairy tale. I was hooked from the start. I read the Book of Revelation all the time, even during sermons. I loved it. Everything seemed so mystical and unreal. One Wednesday in R.A.s, one of the older youth at our church gave us a lesson about Revelation and what the metaphors actually meant. I was greatly intrigued, but at the same time, I was scared to death. All of the talk about war, death, blood, locusts and beasts really freaked me out. The older youth also told us that this time was drawing nearer every second. Knowing that I could be left behind without my family was a terrifying thought. Living during the most horrific time the world has ever seen was not on my "to do" list. Then the youth member told us that all we had to do was be saved, and we would not have to face this wrath of God. That was a relief at first. After all, I had made my "decision" years ago.
I told myself that I was saved for another year or so, but the fear of living during the tribulation became stronger and stronger. An 11-year-old boy should be able to stay at home for a little while by himself, right? Not me. I could not bear the thought of seeing my mom or my dad walk out the door to get some groceries and never come back. I was terrified that the rapture would occur, and I would be left behind to suffer the consequences. My fear became so severe that I could not even walk our dog without coming back every two minutes to make sure my family was still there. I could not even sleep at night. I went so far as to peek into my parents' room to make sure I was not the only one in the house.
I was miserable, and I was certain that there was nothing I could do about it. I was too embarrassed to admit my problem to my own parents. I was "saved," and that meant that I had that peace that passes all understanding. Well, I did not have that peace at all. I had everything but that peace.
One afternoon, my mom and I were walking our dog in a field behind our house. She had been aware that something was wrong, and she and I talked about it a little bit. I told her about being afraid that the rapture would occur and I would be left behind to deal with it. Having thought for years that I was saved, I asked my mom how I was supposed to know that I was saved. I was hoping for some tangible proof, but she told me that I would just know it. She said I would have that peace that only God provides. I knew right then and there that I was not saved. When we finally got back to the house, Mom went back inside. I stayed in the backyard and got down on one knee. I asked God to forgive me of my sins and to save me, and he did. My grandpa baptized me, and this time it meant something. It showed the world that I was saved by the grace of God and his Son, Jesus Christ.
Over the next few weeks, my fear gradually went away. I began to walk the dog by myself. I could sleep easily at night, and I even stayed at home by myself. God truly rescued me from a life of misery and fear.
He truly gives a peace that passes all understanding.
Hicks, of Cleveland, Tenn., is a member of the TruthQuest: California
team and a member of First Baptist Church, Cleveland.