Salvation Experience of
James Glenn Lankford
It’s truly amazing at the things you can remember when you take the time to look back in life. One of the most treasured things a person can have is memories that are built, and forever etched in the mind and soul of an individual. Our past experiences help make us what we are today, and one of the most enjoyable things to do is to share these experiences with our dear friends, and sometimes even complete strangers. For this reason, I have tried to set in perspective the events involved in the salvation of my soul, gifted to me by Grace from my Lord God, for Christ’s sake on the night of November 10th, 1986 around and about the 23rd hour.
I remember going to revival at New Cross Roads Missionary Baptist Church all my life, the only Church I’ve ever known. Year after year Mom & Dad would take us to revival in the summer time. Back in those days, I rejected the idea of giving up a week of my summer vacation from school to attend what I thought were silly Church services. I can remember a lot of the faces from back then, some of whom have went on to claim their reward, and others who have chosen to take their worship elsewhere.
Then came the summer revival of 1979, just a short time before my 10th birthday of July 30th. I remember that year Bro. Harold Carver had been called to help preach our summer revival. The only thing I believe I remember him preaching on was “Hell”. I left the service that day troubled within myself. I went home and was trying to keep to myself. Mom was in the kitchen cooking fried chicken in her old electric skillet while I just sat on the couch thinking to myself. I remember asking a few questions about being saved; Mom knew I was bothered, or rather, under conviction. I retreated to my room for a while, and then it seemed like the bothersome feeling I had just went away and when she later came to me, and remember telling her I was saved. At the age I was at, little did I realize that mom and dad would begin spreading the news, so fast that by the time I returned to church that night I had people coming to me asking what had happened to me. I sat on the front pew, right side of the church that night. I remember vividly Bro. Clarence Carter in the pulpit saying that “a little Lankford boy” had gotten saved today.
From that point on, feelings within myself were difficult to describe. I soon had people coming to me asking me if I felt like joining the Church, with my reply simply being, “I don’t know.” Well, as time went on I began living in fear. I would constantly look up in the sky when outside, looking for the great “splitting of the eastern skies” that I had always heard of, expecting to see a trail of fire in the midst. I began to seriously doubt if I was ever saved at all. At church I always tried to sing along, trying to imitate Daddy singing along on all the famous bass songs that I still remember today. I could not, however sing along with the song, “I Know I‘m Saved”, or even one of my all-time favorites to this day, “I Can Tell You The Time.” This really troubled me, and during those times, I really tried to do some soul-searching. I believe I was getting to the point to where I really did believe I wasn’t saved. I remember sleepless nights, and getting on my knees beside my bed asking GOD to remove the doubt and confusion that clouded my mind. I would pray until I just couldn’t pray anymore. I remember asking GOD to let me awake in the morning to see the sunlight of another day. I was scared of dying, and felt like since I had already told people I was saved, I would just have to accept this condition that was tormenting me deep in my soul.
From around my 10th birthday, I lived in this condition for 7 years with doubt and confusion, passing my 17th birthday. Sometimes I hear of people that have lived with painful conditions for a long time, and had just learned to deal with it. That’s kind of how I had become. You see, I could only say to myself, “I think I‘m saved.” And that’s as close to being sure of it that I could be. I had given up on praying, yet the gnawing feeling in my soul was always present with me, from the time I awoke in the morning till I went to sleep each night. I had reached my senior year in high school, and during this time I had already experienced many things while growing up, both good, and bad. I had been talked to numerous times about, “placing my light in the candlestick” and joining the Church. But I never did, even so desiring that people would leave me alone about it.
On the 10th day of November 1986, we had been dismissed from school that day due to a PTC, a parent-teacher conference. It was getting late, somewhere around 11:00 PM. Mom & Dad had already gone to bed, and I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. Then a feeling so strong enveloped me; a feeling so heavy came upon me. Just as Adam knew the Lord was calling his name in the Garden of Eden, I knew the Lord had made his presence with me that night, only now, in the stillness of the night, HE was calling my name. It truly is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a Living God. The weight that fell upon me was that as of a ton of bricks. I remember immediately falling to my knees crying upon the name of Jesus to save my soul, to forgive me of my sins and relieve me of this awful feeling I had carried so long. Time had lost all essence of meaning, and I can’t remember to this day how long I prayed, but I do remember, the Lord saved me right there on my knees that night. Just as quick as a tornado comes and goes leaving a wake of destruction in it’s path, and just as quick as Jesus calmed the stormy seas of Galilee, my soul was made free. I truly found out what it meant to “get into the closet” that night. When I came to and was finally able to raise my head, the joy I felt was truly unspeakable. I didn’t need somebody, or some preacher to tell me what to pray, when to pray, or to council me. I will go even further to say that I certainly did not “accept” the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior, but rather, He accepted me. GOD came that night looking for me; I certainly wasn’t expecting what had happened. I can certainly say also that I did not “ask the Lord Jesus to come into my life, and make me anew”, or make some sort of “decision” for the Lord. I was hurting inside, and was begging GOD to relieve me of this awful burden. Needless to say, I had great difficulty in going to sleep. I felt like I needed to undo every bad thing I had ever done, and I even tried to make a mental list of those things. I later learned that those things were covered by the blood of Jesus, and that I was no longer accountable for those things.
You might think the story would end here, but it doesn’t. You see, I never told anyone about this because I was afraid at the embarrassment I would have to endure, since people thought I was already saved prior to this night. I went to school the next day, unable to focus on anything but what had happened the night before. I knew that now I needed to join the Church, to tell what had happened, but I never did. Time went on, and I had another experience, somewhat different.
What I write now has never been written anywhere until now, never told to anyone but a few, and I mean a FEW people. Reason being, is because it had so much of an impact on my life, something that literally “scared me to death” and something I will NEVER forget. I’ve heard people laugh when making mention of Satan, scoffing at the “idea’ that such a being could exist and how he could have such an influence on people, even to the point of causing men to beat & murder their wives, and mothers to kill unborn children, a process that has been sugar-coated by calling it “abortion.” Well, once again I was getting ready for bed one night, in the very bathroom I had gotten saved in. Words are difficult to describe here, the hairs on my arm and neck quiver to even think back on this night. The very air in the room seemed to stifle, and it seemed the already stillness and quietness deepened even more. Without warning, it seemed as if the very fabric of time and eternity was torn right there, and everything seemed to stop. I felt a great EVIL enter the room, a feeling so utterly unspeakable, that now it reminds me of the scriptures that state in Revelation that men’s fear will be so great that their heart will literally fail them. For a brief instance, the feeling was as if something were trying to reach my soul, even to the point where I thought I heard pure gnashing of hatred. The terror that gripped me went straight to my heart. I never saw anything, but the feeling was just as real as anything I might’ve seen. It was only sometime later that I fully believe it was SATAN himself manifesting himself to me. Even as I write this now, the chilling feeling raises goose bumps all over. I lost all sense of reality, and the only thing I thought of doing was to run, and I ran straight to mom who was already asleep. I scared the wits out of her I know, but I remember telling her I felt like the world was really ending right there. At first, I was at a total loss for words. I couldn’t really describe what had happened. Dad was working 3rdshift, so it was only mom & I at home. One of the first things she asked me was did I think this was something about me not joining the Church yet. Of course, I couldn’t answer. Then Mom did the only thing she knew to do, she prayed right there in the floor next to me. I finally made it to bed; don’t know how I ever made it to sleep. I awoke the next morning, and I was alone, as mom had gone to work. The fear was still in me so strong and I couldn’t even finish my normal “get ready for school routine” and I left as quickly as I could. It was quite some time before I could ever be alone comfortably at home. Time came and went and eventually healed the spiritual trauma, but never have I forgotten it. But this one thing I know: my soul was, and still is, safe from Satan, saved & eternally sealed by the blood of Christ.
I graduated high school, went off to school for a while and returned home to get a local job. A year later, I got a job in Jackson, TN. By this time it was approaching the fall season of ’89. I had begun to attend Sunday night services, and we were having some wonderfully Spirit-filled meetings. The Lord began to work on me, and every Sunday I would tell myself that I would join the Church. But, just as the Devil would have it, I would put it off. Sunday after Sunday I put it off. I eventually became discouraged with myself and I quit telling myself that I would join. Sunday night, December 10th, 1989 we were in service, and the Spirit was strong. The service that night pretty much turned out to be a testimonial, and by the time we got around to having a fellowship handshake, I knew this was it. I went around the walk during fellowship and told Bro. Haskins that I wanted to join the Church. What a relief I felt at that moment! The hard part was finally out of the way. I finally felt my salvation was complete. I knew that this was something I should’ve done a long time ago. I gave my testimony for the first time. Oh, how good that felt! Due to the upcoming cold weather, the baptism was delayed until we were finally able to schedule it for February 11, 1990 on a Sunday afternoon at Bro. Warren Smother’s pond. The water was extremely cold as it had been freezing all week and the temperature had warmed up to about 40 deg. F. The opportunity was given to me to use a baptistery of a neighbor Church, but I declined, desiring to experience the “old time” baptismal practice. As Bro. Dwight Haskins baptized me, the cold waters took my breath, but I never did get sick over that. From that point on, my life took a new meaning. I saw things differently, and felt things differently, and even acted differently. I finally felt like I truly was part of a new family.
I have tried to write down my testimony as detailed as I could; some things there just simply are no words to substitute for the Spiritual feelings that engulf us from time to time. I had no idea the good it would do for me to sit down and write this. Several times I had to stop and wipe away the tears as I recollected what God has done for me. Just as I was born into the Lankford family on July 30th, 1969, no matter what happens, nothing can change that. That is my lineage, and my blood, thus I shall always be – a Lankford. Likewise, On November 10th, 1986 I was born into the family of God, and henceforth, shall always be – a child of God. I hope this can be a blessing for someone, for a testimony of salvation is surely a treasure to share.
James G. Lankford
October 11th, 1999