Personal Testimony by Kaylee King
Growing up I was not a stranger to church. I remember going to Sunday school, singing the songs, doing the crafts, and even attending church camp. I had a lot of good times, but I never really “felt “anything. I just went through the motions. As a kid, you just go along with what your parents tell you to do. At 10 years old we moved to another town and stopped going to church regularly. By the time I was in my early teens I started to really question if God was real. When I was thirteen, I remember being drawn to the “darker” side of things. I became a goth kid. Wearing all black, chains, spikes, black nails, skulls, heavy metal, etc. I found a great group of friends and they were so accepting, nice and kind, unlike the other non-gothic kids, who I had a history of being bullied with. I struggled with my mental health through those years and ultimately decided there is no way God is real. With all the hurt in the world, even if there was a God, I would not want to serve that kind of God. I had a lot of things I would want to say to Him, if He was real.
As the years went on my heart became more and more hardened. I was a proud atheist and wanted to convince anyone who would listen that it didn’t make any sense as to why there was a God. He was a man-made concept and science could explain everything, and those who believed in God were lacking intellect. That people just believed in God to make themselves feel better about death. People who believed in God, were only nice because they selfishly wanted to get into heaven. Whereas, if you’re an atheist and you’re nice and kind to people, you’re doing it because you’re a good person, and not just wanting to get a special prize when you die.
That is the way I thought for nineteen years of my life. During that time, there were people that tried to convince me otherwise, which ultimately just made my atheism stronger. My Mom would frequently say she would pray for me, but I never wanted to hear that. Stephen, my now husband, who I met when I was thirteen, was also an atheist. His grandmother, Elaine Tibbs, who attended Countryside for many years, I’m sure, would often pray for Stephen and I.
Let’s jump to 2016, when my beautiful baby Avery was born. She was definitely a surprise for Stephen and I, as we were not planning on having kids. As she started to get older, I would often wonder how I would explain religion to her. I wanted her to know all the information I did, but also be okay with her making whatever choice she wanted. Fast forward a couple years later, and I struggled with the thought of sending her to public school. But if not public school, then where? We had so many reasons for not wanting to send her to a public school and any private school would be Christian based, and there lies my dilemma. Do I send her to a public school, where there are so many things I disagree with, or should an atheist send their child to a Christian school? The very thought of how awkward that would be gave me tons of anxiety.
On August 29, 2018 we just had come back from our yearly family vacation in Pigeon Forge. Avery and Stephen decided to stay home to unpack, while I went to pick up my dogs from the boarding place. As I was driving to the boarding place, I was thinking again about the school situation. I spontaneously decided to pray about it. My thought was, “hey, I am alone in my car, let’s see what happens, if nothing happens, no one knows and it would just re-enforce that praying doesn’t do anything, or we can see if something actually comes of it.”
So, I prayed…
“Lord, I know it’s been a while. I don’t honestly know if you are real or not. I don’t believe in you, you know that; I am not sure why I have such a hard time believing in you. But I guess talking to you is worth a shot. I am struggling knowing what to do with Avery. I don’t want to be the one to mess up her future. If you are real, I don’t want to be the one who discourages her or leads her down the wrong path. It would be so weird and uncomfortable for an atheist to send their child to a Christian school, I want what is best for her. Please Lord, if you are real, give me a sign, let me know, show me what I need to do…”
About this time, I heard some music begin to play in my car (there was no music playing prior). It was a soft piano style music, which caught my attention since it was not anything close to the style of music I listened to. I immediately stopped praying and turned up the volume. I looked at my screen in my car and it said “10,000 reasons” off an album called “The Flood”. As soon as the words started, God immediately began to speak to me through the lyrics (I had never heard this song before or any Christian music in 19+ years). The words God spoke to me during this song will be in blue,
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name.
Worship my name like never before
The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning; It’s time to sing Your song again.
This is a new day, what is in the past doesn’t matter, it’s time to believe in me again, like you did once before
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.
I have always been with you in the past, present and the future. Trust in me the rest of your days
Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy Name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy Name.
Sing my praise again, worship me like never before, and walk with me
You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger, Your Name is great and Your heart is kind;
I am not mad at you for your past, I offer grace and forgiveness
At this point, I am sobbing. I cannot express in words what it felt like to have God speak to me on such an intense and intimate level. Someone who I fought for years is here, right now, pouring His love into me and telling me that all of the bad things I have said and done doesn’t matter if I just drop everything and follow Him. I was in shock and believe it or not still fighting it. Was this a coincidence this song came on while I was praying? I then said “Why should I believe in you?” and the next song lyric that came on was this:
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.
Right then and there, God said, there are 10,000 reasons for you to believe in me, let go.
So, I did, I surrendered. I cried out…
“God, I am so sorry. I am so, so sorry. It has been so long; I have said so many bad things. Please forgive me for everything I have done. Please come into my life, change me, change my family, change my heart. Please be a part of me and Avery. I want to teach her the right way. I want to lead her down the right path. I may have messed my life up but I don’t want to mess her life up. Please Lord come into my heart.”
The next moment, I literally felt God fill me with His Holy Spirit and tell me that all was forgiven, that he loved me, and that everything was going to be okay from that day forward. Then this verse came,
And on that day when my strength is failing, the end draws near and my time has come;
Still my soul sings Your praise unending, Ten thousand years and then forevermore.
Walk with me forever, praise my name like never before.
And that is what I did. I told him I would sing his praise like never before and he has all of me and all of my heart.
I pulled into the parking lot of the boarding place and had to get my face right or else people are going to think I missed my dog way too much. One of the craziest things about this is I had that Pandora music account for over a decade, it was set on an AC/DC channel, and not once had that station ever played anything other than rock. NEVER on ANY of my Pandora stations combined, had it EVER played a Christian song. What I find a little comical is the next song after 10,000 reasons was TNT by AC/DC, which I thought was fitting since it literally felt like a bomb just went off in my car. Another thing that is interesting to me, is that version of 10,000 reasons I have, still to this day, never heard on any radio or Pandora station (and now I have multiple Christian stations on my Pandora) and still have never heard that version of that song again, just the Matt Redmon version. The only way I can listen to the version that played in my car that day is if I YouTube “10,000 reasons The Flood”. I always laugh about that too because it literally was a flood of emotions.
Hopefully you stay with me, because this gets even more crazy. After that encounter I had, I was ON FIRE for God. I really wanted, no I NEEDED, to go to church. I was craving Jesus like nothing I had experienced in my entire life. One problem though… my husband was an atheist. How in the world am I going to tell him what had just happened without him thinking I’ve lost my mind. Especially me of all people, he knew the type of person I was. For days, I sat on this, racking my mind. How am I going to tell him about this? I have to tell him; I have to go to church. Should I sneak my way into church? Would he notice? Of course, he would. Well, after building up a few days of courage, I finally decided one night, it’s time to tell him what happened. We were getting ready for bed and I said, “Hey I have something I need to tell you and I am not sure how.” He said, “just say it”. I immediately starting sobbing. I couldn’t even look at him, I looked down the entire time, and explained everything that had happened. During all of this he never said a word. Once I finished explaining everything, there was a moment of silence. He looked up with tears in his eyes and said, you’re not going to believe this. I said, “what?” He said, “I have been feeling a calling to come back to God, and I didn’t know how to tell you, I knew how you viewed this kind of stuff. I prayed the other day, on my way home in my truck, on the way home from northern Ohio, that God would help me change your heart, and here you are. He answered my prayer. Funny thing, He talked to me through Johnny Cash “The Man Comes Around.”
That next Sunday we attended Countryside. Pastor said some things that went straight through to my soul. It was like he was talking directly to me, like he knew exactly what had happened to me earlier that week. I knew from that moment this is where we needed to be. We decided on Countryside because that is where Stephen’s grandmother attended for so many years and where Stephen attended as a child. It also was perfect since we wanted to send Avery to a private school and Countryside had that also. Later, that day, we met up with my parents. My Mom asked what we had done that day and I told her we went to church. When I tell you her jaw dropped, that is an understatement. I told her what happened, and then they began attending Countryside the very next Sunday.
God is amazing, isn’t he? I used to believe in coincidences a lot. These days, not so much. Not saying they never happen, but most of the time I see them now as part of God’s plan. This, all this that we experienced, it was too much to all be coincidence. And the feeling of the Holy Spirit and God speaking to me so clearly, definitely not a coincidence. And from that day, even to this day, I still crave that closeness that I had. God knew me. He knew I needed something BIG to happen to soften my heart and get me to believe. He knew exactly what I needed. I just had to be willing enough.
From that day on, I have never been more committed to something in my life. I crave Jesus daily. I pray often. My anxiety is so much better than it used to be, knowing He’s got everything in control. It literally was like a veil was lifted from my eyes. I see people differently now. I see God way differently. I now understand so much more. I understand why there is hurt in this world. I now understand all of the question that I had when I was doubting as an early teenager. After that day, God led me to so much information. I was reading the bible, apologetics, theory, and even science. Did you know there is actually overwhelming evidence in the science world that points to a divine creator? If someone would have told me that information before I was saved, my heart would have been so hardened, I would have just passed it off. But now I really can see. I can see the truth; I can feel the truth. So don’t be discouraged. If you know someone or have a family member that you think would never believe in God, don’t be so sure. Don’t give up. Don’t stop praying. God is bigger…MUCH bigger. And when the time is right, He will reveal himself. If you would have told me 5 years or so ago this is where I would be today, I would have laughed in your face and said never in a million years, yet here we are. God is GOOD and He is GREAT. I owe him everything, and He is worthy of all praise.