I've known Jesus as long as I can remember. I was raised in a Christian home by Christian parents....my dad was a Deacon, both of my parents were Sunday school teachers, and my mom was even interim youth director one summer. I was a counselor's kid at youth Falls Creek every summer, and some of my most vivid childhood memories include learning to sing the books of the bible in an upstairs Sunday school room at FBC Wewoka and dipping strawberry cookies in red Kool-Aid at Vacation Bible School. We were always at the church, and most of our social life revolved around church friends or church functions. I can't count how many youth gatherings or Sunday school parties I attended. I was always in the Christmas play, and I spent Wednesday nights learning "The B-I-B-L-E" and "I'm in the Lord's Army" in children's choir. Important figures from my childhood that I will always remember are people from the church. It's kind of crazy, but when I think about my early childhood, almost all of my memories involve First Baptist Church Wewoka or people who went there.
When I was about 7, Sunday school lessons and sermons were really starting to make sense and the Holy Spirit started to work on my heart. I remember having a longing for Jesus to be in my heart and I wanted to become a Christian. I knew that I needed Jesus. One Saturday night, I remember my parents being in their master bathroom at our first house in Quail Run. I walked in and sat down on the floor. I asked my daddy to help me pray and ask Jesus into my heart. We prayed together and then he read me some scripture. There wasn't any great transformation...I didn't immediately feel different...it was a simple, child's prayer. But at that point, I knew that Jesus was Lord over my life and that I was a follower of Christ. The next morning, I walked down front...I still remember that red carpet...and I announced my salvation. A few weeks later, right about the time that I turned 8, I was baptized at Wewoka First Baptist Church.
I started school in Seminole, and as I got older I started becoming involved in lots of activities and making friends at school. We gradually started drifting away from FBC Wewoka and started attending FBC Seminole. This was my mother's childhood church, and also where my great-grandmother had attended for years...every time the doors were open. My great-grandmother, Lillian McKenzie, played an important role in guiding my Christian faith. Her Bible was worn, wrote in, and always open. She would always talk about Jesus and would have random scriptures written in random places throughout her house. She was the best example of a Christian that I knew. She was kind, strong, confident...she could quote the Bible and she LOVED Jesus. She had this aura surrounding her...like everyone knew that Jesus's light was shining through her. Looking back, there's so much I wish I would have asked her or learned from her about the Word and about her own personal walk with Christ. But unfortunately, when you're an adolescent those types of things aren't usually your top priority.
Going to church at FBC Seminole just wasn't the same. We were new, so mom and dad no longer taught Sunday school or lead the youth group. The church was bigger and I didn't know everyone that I was sitting next to on Sunday mornings. Dad got busier with work and mom started working on finishing her degree, so we weren't as involved in the church. I floated back and forth between Wewoka and Seminole youth groups. I even went to Falls Creek with both churches, but I never really felt like I belonged. Seminole youth group was big, and I was new at trying to be in a youth group instead of just being a youth leader's kid. I was really intimidated and felt like I needed to know so much more to be involved. These kids knew all of the latest Christian songs...they knew bible verses by memory...they could give their testimonies on demand. I had always gone to church, but now I just felt like a little kid that only knew the popular Bible stories you learned in Sunday school. I'm a perfectionist and an over-achiever, so naturally I didn't feel "good enough" for this youth group. I felt so behind in my Christian knowledge, and at this point, my teenage ego didn't realize that that didn't matter....that my relationship with Jesus was "good enough" and surpassed any bible knowledge or praise and worship song that I may not know. I went to Falls Creek a couple of times as a teen, came to every "See You at the Pole," and tried to feel like part of the group, but after more or less being told that I wan't a "good enough" Christian to go to Super Summer, I was done.
I was a little rebellious in high school. Nothing too crazy...I mean, I made straight A's and was Valedictorian, and was homecoming attendant every year, but I wasn't an angel. I found my "first love" and went through a terrible high school relationship. He pulled me away from Jesus and completely jumbled my mind. After five crazy years, I met Jeb. Okay...well, I had always known Jeb for as long as I can remember. He was even my boyfriend in the seventh grade. But the summer after my junior year, I really met Jeb. And I fell in love. Real love...a different kind of love than before. I knew he was a Christian, but at first we never talked about religion or Christ. As we started college and our relationship grew, we started attending church with my parents when we could. We both began to really have a longing for a deeper relationship with Christ. We began reading our Bible more and talking about Jesus. Tommy Clark was the Pastor at FBC Seminole and Jeb loved his sermons. We both felt like we could really relate and for the first time in a long time, I started feeling "good enough" for Jesus. I had matured in my faith and I realized that all that "churchy" stuff didn't matter. My personal relationship with Jesus was ALL that mattered.
Jeb was saved at Falls Creek during high school, but never followed through with baptism. The month before our wedding, Jeb was finally baptized. Marriage counseling with Pastor Tommy was absolutely wonderful. I saw a spark ignite within Jeb, and I began to see his desire to learn more about Christ and become the spiritual leader of our home. We began praying aloud together as a couple and even took a "Starting Point" class at the church a few months after our wedding. But it wasn't until I became a mother (just 10 months after we were married!) that I really began to realize that I wasn't making Christ the MAIN priority in my life. I wanted my children to know Christ and I wanted to be able to teach them about the Bible and share with them all of the wonderful things about Jesus. But how could I do this if I wasn't where I needed to be as a Christian? And then it hit me. This was going to take work. How would I get to know Christ more if I didn't spend time with Him? Just like any other relationship, learning about Christ was going to require some work on my part. I needed to spend time with Him daily, spend time in His Word, and pray for Him to lead me in the right direction. So for the last few years, this is where I have been...trying daily to learn more about Jesus Christ and how he can use me as a wife, mother, and health care provider.
But even through all of this, I STILL struggled with the "once saved, always saved" issue. As I mentioned before, I am an over-achiever and I can never just "kind of" do something. This type of personality has it's strengths, but Satan had found my weakness in it. I have never felt like my testimony was "good enough" for Jesus. I always questioned, "Was my little prayer good enough to really make me a Christian?" At 7 years old, I didn't have this amazing, life-changing experience when I asked Christ to come into my heart, and I've always struggled with that. I feel like I'm constantly asking Jesus to come into my heart and lead my life, because I never felt like my salvation experience was "good enough" or "memorable enough." However, this past Sunday, Pastor Marvin spoke the words, "No one that deserves to go to heaven, is going to go to hell." Now he was not saying this in relation to your works, but meaning that anyone who has a personal relationship with Christ and has asked Him to be Lord of their life will be going to heaven. This hit me. Hard. And at that moment I knew...I mean really knew... that yes, of course I'm going to heaven! I felt Jesus saying to me (loudly... almost as if he was yelling at me) "STOP IT. STOP IT right now, Kelli Ann! This has GOT to STOP!" You know, the way your parents would scold you...that tone where you knew that they loved you, but were scolding you because you knew better.
And then my heart was at peace as I heard Jesus saying to me, "You are enough. That tiny little prayer when you were 7 years old was enough. When you are a broken mess, you are enough. Your works will never be enough, but all I want is you...weaknesses and all. You, Kelli Ann Rollins, are enough. You don't have to have the most amazing salvation story and you don't have to have this mountain-moving testimony, because it is not you, but me who makes things amazing. Your life and your story is amazing because of Jesus Christ. Quit trying to be good enough for me. You will never be good enough for me, and I love you anyway. You are already mine...and you have been mine since you were 7 years old." I felt as if a HUGE weight had been lifted off of me. I could quit trying. I could quit auditioning for Christ. He doesn't love me in spite of my weaknesses, He loves me BECAUSE of my weaknesses. That's what's so AWESOME about Jesus! You don't have to be perfect. You don't have to have a "Pinterest-type" testimony. YOU ARE ENOUGH...just the way you are.
I have been a Christian since I was 7. I am not perfect. I don't have many Bible verses memorized. I don't make it to church every single Sunday. I don't even think I could name all twelve disciples. But I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and he is Lord of my life. I love Him with all of my heart, and I strive every day to know Him better and share His love with those around me. And that...is enough.