Preparing the Heart:
“There’s no shadow You won’t light up
Mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down
Lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me.”
Reckless Love by Cory Asbury
When our family moved from Kentucky to Tennessee in 2005, Jennifer Yeager was the first person who went out of her way to befriend me. We met at the pool in the temporary housing the church provided for us.
She be-bopped up to my family and I. “Well, hello Hammonds…” she said in her Georgia accent. “I’m Jennifer Yeager and this is my husband Robert; we go to Grace and saw that you are the new pastor and family at our church. Welcome to Knoxville.”
And just like that, Jennifer and I became fast friends. Not only were we neighbors; but also, we sang together on the church worship team. I learned that a couple of months before we met, Jennifer had accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior.
“I thought I was saved when I was 12 years old,” she said. “A pastor preached a sermon on hell, and it scared me to death. I waited until I came home and, alone in my bed I asked God to save me from Hell.”
Years later, a visiting evangelist shared a Sunday message about having assurance of salvation. In tears, Jennifer approached the altar. A choir member, Beth, met her there and prayed, “Lord, I remember the night you came into my life and I’ve never been the same…” When Jennifer heard those words, it startled her. She thought, ‘I still feel the same, maybe I’m not a Christian.’ The concern plagued her. That evening, Jennifer admitted to an altar counselor, Jeanette she felt unsure she had been saved.
“Well, you’re about to get saved now,” Jeanette said.
“She led me in prayer,” Jennifer said, “and I repeated what she’d said. On April 10, 2005, Jesus saved me, and I was born again.”
Jennifer spread her testimony of God’s grace with nearly everyone she encountered. I’d never known a person with a greater gift of evangelism; yet while leading people to Christ on a mission trip in El Salvador, she still doubted her own salvation. Desperate to conquer her uncertainty, she participated in the Bible studies I facilitated in my home and church, but no matter how much Bible she learned, she wrestled with the worst spiritual anguish. Am I truly saved?
I wanted to take her by the shoulders and shake her saying, “Jennifer I see Jesus all over you…there’s no doubt!” She suffered to the point that even reading God’s Word would make it worse. Bible verses stating, “If you don’t love your neighbor—the love of the Father is not in you,” I John 4:20 (New International Version), literally messed with her mind.
“I couldn’t say I truly loved my neighbors,” Jennifer said. “so I would question if I really had Jesus living in my heart. I probably prayed the ‘sinner’s prayer’ a hundred times. I just never felt certain. If somebody would have told me in order to stop doubting, I’d have to cut off my ring finger, or take some sort of salvation pill…I would’ve gladly done it.”
Making life more miserable, she battled a life-long eating disorder causing body-image issues, and Jennifer begged God to free her from the bondage of food addiction. After 15 agonizing years of having no true peace or joy, she began thinking, ‘This God thing is all bogus!’ Being my closest friend, Jennifer had a front row seat to my spiritual shut down, and the darkness that took me under. (You can read my story about that here…Plastered on the Front Pew Plastered on the Front Pew (Part 2)) She thought, ‘If that happened to Liz, it could happen to me.’ Finally, Jennifer told her husband she needed professional help with her eating disorder.
She met with both a secular therapist and a Christian therapist named Rose. Both addressed the eating disorder and identified a flaw in her belief system. The belief, “I’m not worthy of anything or anybody” was founded early in her childhood, and it manifested throughout her life.
Recently in a therapy session she told Rose, “I was told starting at a young age by a close family member, If I get fat I’ll never be loved. I’ve felt unworthy of love my whole life. I’m never going to be loved.” As Jennifer spoke those words aloud, she sensed a voice behind her interrupting, “That is not who you are.” She heard it so clear it startled her. She spun around to see if anyone was there.
“No one was there,” Jennifer said, “but I knew it was the voice of God the Father. He was telling me that I am not the things I’ve believed about myself for so long. It was in that moment I understood I’d been agreeing with the lies of the enemy, and that is why I doubted God.”
“It was as if God said, ‘That’s enough!’ Immediately, I felt free. I looked at Rose and asked her if I could pray with her, and without hesitation she nodded yes. While I prayed I saw myself differently. I was righteous covered by His Blood. I was a saint; I sin, but I’m not a sinner. I told Jesus that I wanted to give everything inside of me to Him, my organs, my blood, my skin…”
After praying, she sighed deeply and announced to Rose, “I’m not struggling. I’m not doubting anymore.”
Rose smiled. “It’s just time,” she said.
No longer doubting, God filled Jennifer with peace and joy. She couldn’t wait to share the amazing news of her deliverance with me over the phone. “Liz, I have no more tormenting thoughts. They are gone!” I joined her in praising and thanking the God Who frees us.
It is never God’s will that we doubt Him. If you are doubting His faithfulness, His goodness, or His saving power…He is able to set you free. His Word promises in I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” There are no magical words, nor a specific sinner’s prayer that saves you, rather a genuine confession that you need Jesus, and that He alone has the power to save by His grace. Even if we are overcome by a doubting spirit like Jennifer was, God’s Word remains true as it states in II Timothy 2:13, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” (NIV)
The Bible uses the analogy of the marriage relationship when it refers to how God loves us and demonstrates his love for us. He is the groom, and we are His bride. Unlike marriages between two imperfect humans who may lie, betray, and leave one another. God reveals Himself to be lovingly faithful and committed to a covenant union (promise) with us when we accept His Son Jesus as our Savior and Lord. As His bride we are made blameless and holy in His sight, a spotless virgin, because He purifies us with His blood. He is fully devoted to us, and we can trust that one day soon, we will be reunited with Jesus Christ when He returns for His bride.
“Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.” Revelations 19:7 (NIV)
Are you ready? You can be. You can rest assured that because He loves you, you can trust Him. If you are tormented by doubt like Jennifer was, she shared her story so that you may know… God will tear down every demonic lie causing you doubt, set you free from the torment, and fill you with peace because He is faithful.
“God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may have eternal life.” I John 5:11-13 (NIV)
(If you’d like to correspond with Jennifer Yeager or hear her tell her own testimony you can find her video on Facebook or email her directly at Nolesfan24@aol.com.)
This article was written by a member of our writing team, Liz Hammond. In her free time she loves to bake, read, and lounge on the beach which is in her opinion is the closest thing to heaven. Elizabeth’s passion is ministering to others out of her own God-story where He’s rescued her life and continues to restore her family. She desires to fulfill God’s purpose in her life in encouraging women by sharing her own story, through Bible study, and intimate friendships.
Elizabeth can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note from Tammy Adams: The Corona crisis can lead to much doubt in our Heavenly Father’s protection, provisions, and promises. We at The Hallelujah House thought Jennifer’s story is a good reminder no matter the crisis God’s faithfulness will see you through it. If any of you have a prayer request, please feel free to leave them for us in the comments or email one of us privately. We will be honored to pray for you during this difficult season. Raise a Hallelujah!