I grew up in a military home and married a man in the military, so my life is characterized by change. By the time I was in the seventh grade, I was in my fifth school. While living in Kansas in the third grade, I attended a children’s Bible club on Wednesday nights at a Nazarene church. It was there, while memorizing Bible verses, that I realized there was a heaven and a hell. I was told by an adult that all I needed to do was to be good, and I would go to heaven. Even though I was a “good kid,” something inside me told me that I wasn’t good enough. The Bible says in Romans 3:23, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” I had heard the word “saved” being used, but I didn’t know exactly what it meant; however, I knew that I needed this salvation they spoke of because I recognized I was a sinner.
That was the beginning of my longing to know the truth. As a child and into adolescence, every night I would pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep…,” and I would always end with, “and Lord, please save me.” After my third grade year, we moved from Kansas to Arkansas. When I was in the fourth grade, I began riding a bus to church every Sunday. The kids in our neighborhood looked forward to Saturdays and waited anxiously outside for our faithful bus captain to come and visit. He came nearly every Saturday to visit us and make sure we would be on the bus and in church the next day. He always had a large box of bubble gum. What a treat when he brought the apple-flavored gum! That man had a great influence on me as a child. He cared about each of us kids in the neighborhood. While in the sixth grade, after one of the children’s church services, I responded to an invitation given to those who wanted to be saved. When I went forward, the man asked me if I had ever asked Jesus to save me. I said, “yes,” simply because I had always tacked it on at the end of my prayer each night not knowing what it meant. He thought that was very nice and asked me to go back to my seat. I was very disappointed.
“For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10
Not long after that occasion, my dad retired from the air force, and we moved to Wisconsin. We hadn’t been there long when someone from a bus route knocked on our door and invited us to the Baptist church in the town next to ours. I was so excited! I began riding the bus regularly. When I turned thirteen, I was old enough to go to the youth group activities. One particular night, after a fun evening of playing miniature golf, my youth pastor preached a message about the Father’s love. He explained how Jesus had died on a cross to save sinners. For the first time, I understood what needed to happen. I went out of the room and talked to a lady who showed me Romans 10:13: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” She put my name in the place of “whosoever:” “For if Kaylen shall call upon the name of the Lord, she shall be saved.” I bowed my head and talked to God. I told Him I had sinned and that I needed Him to save me. At that moment, I received Jesus as my Savior. After so many years of searching and wondering, I couldn’t believe the peace I had that night. I’ve not doubted my salvation since.
Many years later, after giving this testimony of my salvation during a bus workers’ banquet at church, a woman pointed out to me how special it was that God sought me and pursued me until I received Him. I hadn’t really thought of it that way before that moment, but it is so true. It seemed that no matter where I lived, God placed someone in my life to teach me about Him. The Lord patiently and lovingly sought me until I finally understood how to accept Him. The same God that pursued me as a child living in Kansas, Arkansas and Wisconsin pursues me still and is with me always. He has promised never to leave me nor forsake me. God is still with me. I’m very thankful for the truth of Luke 19:10: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” How about you? Is God pursuing you? Why not take a moment now to accept Him? He has come to seek and to save you too.
Written by Kaylen Balmer. This article was published in the Fall 2016 edition of The Beautiful Spirit magazine.