The Personal Testimony Of Temple Harding

"I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait upon the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say on the Lord." Psalm 27:13-14

These were the words of life or "the good news" given to me when I didn't know where I was and couldn't find my way out.

For many years I was puzzled with one question: "Am I saved, or am I lost?"I was raised in a wonderful home and a Southern Baptist Church. My dad and mom were faithful to our church. They had our family at church just about every time the doors were opened. Therefore that is what most of my life centered around, the church.

When I was 8 years old I made a profession of faith. After that I did what all 8 year olds do; I grew up. By the time I was in the 9th grade I became a little more zealous towards God. Basically, I followed my sister's convictions and tried to live the best I knew how to for God. My friends at church and at school looked at me as the strong Christian girl who had it all together. Little did they know of the doubts, fears, and uncertainty of my eternity that I lived with.

As a teen-ager, I would go to youth conventions and other youth trips. Almost every time at the end of the preacher's message the preacher would ask for every head to bow and every eye to close. Then he'd ask the dreaded question that would ring in my ears and in the depths of my heart and soul. "If you were to die tonight do you know without a doubt that you would go to heaven? Do you know that you know that you're saved? If so, raise your hand. Thank you, thank you, put your hands down." Then he began to talk to the thousands of us who weren't sure, and proceeded to help us nail it down. Well my hammer just wouldn't work. Thank God it wouldn't. Oh, how that question drew me closer to God every time I heard it. Not only did I hear it at the end of all sermons, but I began to hear it when I would lay my head on my pillow at night. "Are you lost. Do you know?" I would lay there in a cold sweat trying to shove it off and finding myself full of fear of hell and the rapture, and swamped with doubts beyond help. Each night I would cry myself to sleep. Finally I had enough of holding it in, so I began to ask others questions about all my doubts and fears. Well, I got some comfort from their answer that it was just the devil bothering me. That comfort, or as some might say, that prop didn't last very long at all. Thank God He never left me alone but always kept dealing with me about my condition.

When I was 16 years old I had heard that a friend of my oldest sister named Connie Owen had gotten saved. I was surprised, but inside I felt that maybe, just maybe, there is something better than what I was having to live with. I also heard that her husband, Brother Terry Owen was lost and hadn't gotten saved yet. I really didn't know what to think of that. You see, I had known Terry for most of my life because our families were good friends. Therefore, I knew that Terry was a good Christian young man. He had grown up the same way I did and so if he could be lost then maybe that was what was wrong with me.

This made me seriously seek God. One night in April of 1986 my sister Janet asked me a question. She asked, "Temple did you ever know you were lost before you got saved." "No!" I replied. "I was only 8." But that question made perfect sense that if I was lost in the mall or the woods then I would cry out for someone to help me. So there I found myself lost. Well, all I knew to do was to ask God to save me. "Save me, save me, save me." Nothing happened, but I guess I thought I just have to believe that he did. So I looked up and hugged my sister's neck, but inside I felt so empty. I thought I needed to tell my parents. They were surprised, but they took it in. I called my boyfriend Mark and told him. He said that he had to go because God was dealing with him too. As I went to school the next day I still felt so empty, and it seemed the more people I told the emptier I got. It was awful! The next Sunday I walked the aisle and told my church, but still inside my soul I wasn't sure if I was saved or not. I was beginning to feel sick over the whole thing. During the next few weeks I couldn't hide how I felt. The emptiness that I was feeling inside showed itself all over the outside. Again I began to ask my family, friends, preachers and even school teachers all my questions. I just wasn't sure if I was saved or lost. I was in so much turmoil over this that my grades in school began to go from A's to C's and D's. I couldn't think of anything else but my salvation. "My tears were my meat day and night." I was a sad sight to look upon. People wanted to help me. Preachers tried to help me, but nothing they offered me satisfied my soul. The sinner's prayer didn't give me peace and, yes, I was sincere as I knew how to be when I prayed it. Nothing could fill that emptiness. I knew no doctor could help me, only the great Physician, Jesus, could help. Oh, if I could only find him.

My junior year was finally over and I was off to be a senior. Every once in a while I would talk to a preacher, when a new one would come into our church to preach, but there was still no help. Little did I know that God was drawing me to himself the whole time.

By my senior year Terry Owen had gotten saved, but I hadn't been able to talk to him yet. Finally during the early part of my senior year Brother Terry came by my house. He sat down and asked me how I was doing. Well, I still wasn't any better, so I told him. He asked me one question, "If you knew you were lost, could you believe that God would save you right now?" At first I thought, 'Yes, if I knew I was lost I could; I think.' After he left, I went to my room and I did what he said. I asked God to save me. I found myself looking to see if God would save me. So, for the first time I saw that I didn't believe that God would do it. Before Brother Terry left, he told me that if I couldn't believe that God would save me, then we would waittill I could believe. Oh, how these words were a breath of fresh air; That I could wait on God. For the past several months I had tried, and tried, and tried everything in the book to get saved and nothing worked. But I never heard that one could wait on God, yet it is all through the book of Psalms. So I began to wait. All my doubts and fears left because I knew where I was with God. I was lost. By this time I had quit talking to many people because no one understood me.

I went on participating in school activities as most seniors do. During my senior year God began to show me a few things about myself. I saw that I thought I was better than others and it was an ugly sight. I tried not to have those attitudes, but they just wouldn't go away. By now most of my senior year was over and we were approaching graduation. Through some circumstances God showed me that I wanted my own way, and he showed me that I wasn't seeking him and he didn't have to save me. It was true, I had basically forgotten about being lost. Oh, I knew I was lost, but I had quit striving to enter in and I was just doing my own thing. Well, May came and I graduated. During the summer I saw that I was bitter and mad at God for not saving me yet. Little did I know it was all my fault. God was longsuffering to me that year I did just what I wanted to do and he just patiently watched me holding back his wrath when I deserved it.

In July I attended a camp meeting in Memphis with Brother Terry and Connie. The first day of the meeting I was able to stay all day and through the night services. When I got home that night I began to wonder if God was even real. This thought pierced my soul. I struggled all night. My unbelief swamped me. I prayed and cried to God to help me and my unbelief. I began to search for God harder than I ever had. I was afraid I had passed the point of God saving me and it was too late. When I arrived at church the next morning I told a few people what was going on. They encouraged me to keep seeking God. That gave me some hope that maybe God was not through dealing with me yet.

The services began and Brother Larry Logan got up to preach. All Brother Larry could do was preach "Are you lost!" He went around the whole sanctuary shouting, "Are you lost? Get down and get right!" Before I knew it every preacher in the place was at the alter praying. Not too long after Brother Larry got started preaching everyone in the building was on their knees. Except me. All I was thinking was, 'I know I'm lost and I've tried so many times to get down and get right.' I was just tired of trying to do it. I also knew that I hadn't been seeking God the way a lost person should and God wouldn't save someone who hadn't been seeking him. Nevertheless, I knelt down. I didn't know why, because I wasn't seeing anything yet. Connie came over to me and began crying with me. Before I knew it, Brother Terry was there. All I could think of was having to be at work in a few hours. So I told God and he removed it from my mind. Then he began to show me that I wanted the world more than Him. I thought somewhere down inside me that the desire to want him was there. I struggled for a long time until finally I admitted that I couldn't. Then God began to show me that I couldn't and wouldn't choose him. I tried so hard to choose Him, but God was right. I couldn't. Then Brother Terry told me that God chose me. At first I had hope. Then God gave me one last look at myself. I saw the rebel in me that didn't want God to be in charge of my life. I didn't even want to be chosen. When I saw that about myself, I turned to look for my Saviour, for I needed one now. The reality of being lost in despair without God or any hope had set down hard on me. I didn't know what else to do but say His name. At first His name was just a name, and I thought, 'This isn't going to work.' Then all of a sudden his name wasn't just a name anymore for He was there. He was real! He was so sweet and kind. When He showed up He brought peace in my heart. When I couldn't come to where He was He came to me. I was solost and Jesus found me!

For by the grace of God I experienced Psalm 40:1-2 "I waited patiently for the Lord and he inclined unto me and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."

It is good to have a testimony that I didn't create but that God gave to me. I can truly say "It is good to wait on the Lord!"