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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Saved?


Grace Illuminated
Chapter One
When did you get saved?
“Saved, from what?” was my initial response.  This was not a question that entered my life until I reached my early twenties. It wasn't that I had no idea that I needed a saving, that I was a lost soul in a fallen world had been clearly evident to me since childhood, and I was not even a church goer.  Then there was the second part of the question, “when?”. When…well, firstly I was not the one doing the saving so I felt strongly that only my savior could answer that one, was not He the only one who truly knew?

According to some, once saved always saved, you recite a simple prayer and poof! Rescued from the fires of hell, salvation is yours. Really, that’s it? This was a challenging concept for me, what of those who are just paying lip service but in their heart, they do not truly believe? It could not possibly all be wrapped up in one prayer in my opinion, could it really be that simple? I did not pray the “Sinner’s prayer” until I was almost 30 years old, but I know in my heart my Messiah saved me long before then and continues to save me daily.  

My family was “unchurched”, no services or religious instruction for me unless I took the initiative and walked down myself, which at the age of about 8 - I did. The local Methodists welcomed me with open arms, this seemingly strange little girl from up the street, who was apparently seeking something. My Grandmother, in whose home I resided most of my life, was all about free-will when it came to relationship with God. Born at the height of the dust-bowl in the midst of the great depression, she spent her youth as a migrant farm worker in the southwest. At an early age she witnessed people fall flat out on the floor at tent revivals writhing, spitting and mumbling incoherently for hours at a time, handling snakes to prove they had been “filled” with the spirit. These behaviors, my Grandmother said, did not seem to testify to the Holy Spirit – but instead “scared the bejesus” out of her and led her to stay away from “church”. Mahota Walker Salerno was raised a bible believing Christian, her parents taught her it was not what proceeded from your mouth but instead what fruits came from the work of your hand. “Feed those that need feedin’, love those that need lovin’” is what her Father Benjamin Franklin Walker recommended as true “Christian” behavior. Ben was a member of the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma and declared that his church was the woods and he went there far more often than Sundays. The bible was a part of their daily routine as a family; it was from this book that my Grandmother Mahota was taught to read and write before she went to Kindergarten. They were followers of Jesus Christ, but followers of organized religion they were not.

Quiet in her faith, Mahota would teach you if you had ears to hear. It wasn't until I was a mother and began a study of the Old and New Testaments myself that I discovered so much of what she shared in life, her words of wisdom - were scripture. You had to choose to seek God for yourself; there was never a time I was told what to believe or what truth was. And seek I did, from the little girl who went down to Sunday school alone, I grew into an agnostic adolescent -  Jesus in my mind, became way too narrow of a path, there had to be a broader gate – so I began to look for a more profound and all-encompassing answer. In college, as a feminist I was drawn to Goddess worship and the New Age earth religions, the duality of God was appealing to me. When I was married at age 19, it was in a Christian church, but I rewrote the ceremony and insisted that when we recited the Lord’s Prayer we did not say “Our Father” but instead, “Our Creator”, as to not offend the divine feminine. I became a practicing Wiccan, dipped my toe into Druidism and even read the Satanic bible- just to see what all the fuss was about. It didn't take very long for me to deduce that I was worshiping creation- not the Creator, and yes maybe gods, but not God (with a big “G”).  

The world of secular humanism held no appeal for me; the answer there said I was the same as an animal, the result of a series of a million accidents that yielded “life”. If God does not exist, then there is nothing special about human beings. I knew in my bones that I was not just primordial ooze, only a random collection of atoms with no greater purpose.  Everything within me cried out that this idea was wrong, I had no doubt that there was a spirit within me that said I was destined for more, that I was wonderfully and fearfully MADE.  By the age of 25, I had made an examination of all the world’s major religions and most of the minor ones as well.  A similar pattern had begun to emerge, they were based upon works – how “good” could you be – how many rules could you follow. There is no grace in Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. My revelation was that all of the religions could be wrong but only one could be right.

In my youth, my Grandmother had quietly introduced me to the God-Man, at this point in my journey she encouraged me to take a second look at Jesus Christ. Mahota encouraged me to seek the real man not the caricature that was created by the church that came after Him, instructing me to not accept the misrepresentation of God by religion. “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:9) 

I was not one who could just believe blindly. It may be the case that blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed, (John 20:29) but I was a lot like the doubting Thomas. How could we know that this man had really existed, fulfilled prophecies and was God on earth? Claims so incredible must have evidence, that I had to go on faith alone was unacceptable to me. It did not take that long for me to see that God Himself has given us sufficient reason to believe. I do not believe in Jesus Christ because It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, I believe because the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming that He lived, was crucified and then rose from the dead - the only one in all the recorded history of mankind to pull that off.

Dearest Reader, the reality is we are each of us walking corpses. Whether you have been given a clean bill of health or a terminal diagnosis, when you leave that Doctor’s office you could get hit by a bus – no encore. No one can live forever; all will die. No one can escape the power of the grave. (Psalm 89:48) The fierce urgency of now compels me to write this to you. We live in a world today that tells us to live for the moment, that there is no absolute truth or right and wrong. I’m here to tell you that is a lie. One man was born to testify to this truth, everyone who belongs to the truth listens to His voice. (John 18:37)  Can you hear it today? He speaks to you, it is no mistake that you are reading these words; He is calling your name :)

1 Corinthians 2: 1-4;  And when I came to you, my brothers, I did not come with wise words of knowledge, putting before you the secret of God.  For I had made the decision to have knowledge of nothing among you but only of Jesus Christ on the cross.  And I was with you without strength, in fear and in doubt.  And in my preaching there were no honeyed words of wisdom, but I was dependent on the power of the Spirit to make it clear to you: