Salvation stories: 'The Lord was trying to tell me something'

John Bill and Gloria Keck both were burdened about their decisions to be followers of Christ as children. They both lifted that burden by surrendering to the Lord much later in life, despite living Christian-like lives.

GRAY, Ky. (KT) – Gloria Keck has played the piano at Keck Baptist Church for more than 50 years. She’s been a Christian for about four weeks.

Keck, who is 77, said she played the role of Christian most of her life. She went forward during an invitation as a young girl with a group of other girls. Even though she did what good church members do throughout her life, the burden of not truly being saved never left her.

Her life looked like that of most Christians. She served the church not only as a piano player but also sang and worked with children’s groups, provided meals when asked and prayed with friends. She was a good woman, a good wife and a good mother. Nobody would have ever known she wasn’t a Christian. But she did.

She knew that the profession of faith she gave as a little girl wasn't given out of genuine faith in Jesus. However, life went on for Gloria and her husband John Bill, who raised three boys and took them to church whenever the doors were open. Gloria was the piano player and her husband, who had a similar story to his wife, led the music for years and years. They did that for decades while trying to hide the burden that was buried deep in their souls.

“I thought about it some of the time but not as domineering to the point where I needed to do something about it,” Gloria said, even recalling an accident in the 1970s when their car was slammed as someone ran through a red light and crashed into them. “This thought came up, ‘You’re not saved!’ I thought, 'How can that be? I loved the Lord.' Sometimes it would be real doubt and sometimes OK.”

The couple played the role of Christian well. They were good people so that part was easy. They helped others because that was their nature. They were part of church leadership even.

On the outside, they were perfect church members.

On the inside, they were burdened with doubt.

John Bill said he went forward at the age of 11 or 12 with some of his friends on Sunday morning.

“I was baptized with one of my friends in a rural pond,” he said.

Like his wife, John Bill always that nagging burden and question: Did I really surrender everything to Christ?

John Bill, who began leading music in the church at the age of 15, lived his life with high moral standards. But deep down inside, he knew the profession of faith during his younger years wasn’t from the heart. Peer pressure was more the reason he went forward.

“I was in Keck school with 30 kids and all eight grades,” he said. “You learn a lot there. You learn a lot of meanness, too.”

It wasn’t until 1991 that John Bill settled the salvation question with a friend, Gene Hurst, helping him walk through it.

It was much later for his wife, who finally got it settled on Aug. 29, 2021. She was baptized “for real” a week ago.

“I had this feeling, this burden, a lot of times when I was leading singing,” John Bill said. “Several times I went up and made a rededication, but that was shortlived. It didn’t lift the burden I had. I was feeling the conviction. One day in a regular church service, I went forward and gave my life to the Lord. It’s very hard to do when I had played the role for so long.”

Through the years, from 1991 to 2021, he would occasionally ask his wife about her salvation experience but never pushed too hard. He knew she was struggling with what to do as well.

“One morning at the breakfast table, John and I were talking,” Gloria said. “He asked me, out of the blue, about my salvation. Another friend told me about his wife not being saved and how she worked in the church all her life and then suddenly found out she wasn’t saved. It was instances like that that kept coming along. The Lord was trying to tell me something.”

So on Aug. 29, Gloria Keck stopped playing the piano when the invitation was going and went to the front of the church.

“I eventually went to the interim preacher,” she said. “He was saying things leading me (to come) forward. I couldn’t hold back anymore. I had to make sure. I was needing to know. Now I’m sure that burden is lifted.”

Her husband said Gloria spoke to the pastor, who knew nothing about her past life.

“She stood in the audience, and he closed the service. After the service, she made a beeline to the front. We all sat down and started talking. She was distraught about the situation. I told her, ‘Today’s the day. Nothing in the past counts. If you feel convicted about that now, ask the Lord to forgive you and accept the Lord out loud.’ She did and that took care of it. She said, ‘I want to be baptized.’’’

Gloria said she has never felt such peace and the burden that was heavier than the piano she plays has been lifted. “I have peace I didn’t have and I don’t have a burden anymore,” she said. “It’s never too late. I didn’t know how they (friends and church members) would accept it. But they loved on me. They are wonderful people and always have been."

Gloria has her 78th birthday coming next month. Meanwhile, her spiritual birthday reaches one month next week.

"It's been so good to know that I know that I know,” she said.

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