A Journey, a Moment, a Revelation

For many years I have heard Christians ask "When did you become a Christian?" and "When did you get saved?" Following those questions were the statements about how you know you're 'saved', how you can 'get saved', and various different methods and forumlas for doing so. I used to follow this same line of thinking, until I started really thinking about my childhood. Regardless of whether or not a specific prayer is quoted or religious tradition is followed in a church, I believe there is something much deeper in us about this 'salvation experience' than we probably take time to really think about.

From the time I was three years old, God began introducing himself to me, through various people, places, and teachings.

At the age of three or so...my babysitter forbade me to pledge allegiance. (my mom could say more about this, I barely remember it) The babysitter said, "God does not like pledging allegiance to the flag." Well..needless to say mom found another babysitter.

When I was in 2nd grade I rode a city bus called the JOY Bus with some neighbor kids. My mom let me use her childhood Bible and she gave me a pretty dress with white gloves. I saw people get baptized and people in wheelchairs lined up along the back wall of the sanctuary. That made me very nervous. I never did know how to respond to handicapped people.

I entered a classroom where they passed out coloring pages. Before they even told me who was on the paper, I knew. It was Jesus with children surrounding Him. I KNEW he loved me from that day on. And I don't remember ANYTHING being said that day by the teachers. I began realizing that God was with me.

I then tried another church as I grew older, but the girls in Sunday School who were related to the preacher and sunday school teachers knew ALL the answers to everything said in class. I felt so intimidated by them. But a friend told me to ignore them and she continued to take me with her over the next several years. I liked the safe environment to hang out with my friends, but as I grew to be a teenager, the judgmentalism set in. I felt so unwelcomed. When my grandpa Frank died, I asked the pastor how we could know for sure someone is in heaven. He said simply 'Believe in God'. I thought, "ok..that's it? Phew* ok I'm good to go."
thinking.. by monica_june, on Pix-O-Sphere
I moved away and met the man who is now my husband. We were living up life in the fast lane together, I drank, smoked, and took drugs recreationally with him. And on a specific night of frying on acid, looking up at the ultra sparkling stars I asked him this..."Do you think heaven will be that beautiful?"

That began our journey 'together' with God. He took me to a small 'spirit filled' church and the moment I walked in the door, I FELT HIM! I literally felt Jesus throughout my whole being. It was overwhelming. I don't remember anything that was preached except at the end when he said, "If you want Jesus in your life come forward." I shot up out of my seat so fast. Crying. THIS is what I want!

Yep, he had me say that fancy prayer, but that wasn't 'it' that took my heart by Storm. It was JESUS Himself who did that. Many things were taught to me after that and I was eager to do everything 'right'. I wanted to. I fell in love with Jesus and I would have done ANYTHING for him...but it wasn't Him telling me to do things for him..it was man telling me what he thought I should do.

We ended up moving back to California (from Nevada) and tried a little non denominational church. I wanted to learn more about praying and being around other people who loved Jesus. I heard about baptism so I got wet because I thought it was required and my willing heart wanted to 'do' whatever I could for God. We ended up trying another church, not that we didn't like that one, but we just felt interested in seeing how others worshipped God.

The next one we went to was huge. We liked it and we were there for about a year. We learned some different things and it was nice, but we knew our lives were out of control and felt we needed more structure.

Next, God led us to another place where we got planted for fifteen years. That structure seemed like just the thing we needed at the time. It was there that I was 'convinced' that I wasn't 'really' saved yet and that I needed to 'do it again to make sure', then I was told my first baptism 'didn't really count' so I had to do it all over again. I was about twenty-one years old and still had that tender heart to 'do things to make God happy'.

Fast forward to today and when I'm asked 'when did you get saved?' There was a time when I would have said it was in Nevada at that tiny spirit filled church, then there was a time I would have said in the structured church where I was told to 'make sure'.

But now I look back on my life and say, I think Jesus will have to be the one to answer that question. I just KNOW I have a relationship with him. He has been introducing himself to me all these years and each day He shows me more of who He is and every day I fall in love all over again. Yet never feeling out of love. My cups runs over.

So while we may not all agree on what process a person goes through to 'be saved', whether we should be sprinkled, dunked, or spirit baptized doesn't really matter to me. I know that Jesus has us all on a journey and He isn't done with us yet. He has everything in control. He has the whole world in His hands. We shouldn't be beating each other up while sitting in His palms together.

Last night I went to see 'Eat, Pray, Love'. This film reminded me of my own walkabout with God.

*Movie Spoilers*

I have thought about Liz's journey and my own. Then I spoke to my 18 year old daughter about her relational encounter with God as well. All three of the journey's..Liz, mine, and Jessica's, all were very unique. Liz realized one day, that she didn't have real love. She set out on a quest to discover love and she, on her own, decided to talk to God. She chose to pray for the first time in her life. She was at a crossroads where she realized how unhappy she really was. She tried finding love through travel, food, and men, but what she discovered was that she was really trying to find herself and love, not just love. I think she was afraid of who she really was. She even tried various different religions and styles of worship to find inner peace, but she discovered herself and love through relationships with people. That's when she realized God lives within her. Going through her journey was how she had a relational encounter with God.

My life, growing up, was introduced to almost every form of immorality out there. And from a very young age I had a desire for something more pure than what I had. Drugs, drinking, and men weren't filling my longing...then as I was falling in love with my boyfriend(who is now my husband) I asked him one night about God. I was realizing there was 'a love' with God that my heart was longing for...then a few days later He struck my heartstrings and his touch verberated throughout my being..I KNEW it was Him. I sobbed. His love was so powerful that He overwhelmed me with a flood of love I had never been hit with before. It was a deeper reality of what I knew as a little girl.

Then Jessica says that athough we introduced her to Bible stories, prayer, etc. She said her encounter was after a time of realzing she had been spiritually violated by spiritual abuse, that she began seriously questioning things...that ol Inquisition I blogged about this last month. And she said it was after that, one night, when a storm came through our city when the thunder and lightning and pounding rain hit her soul at how powerful God is.

So I believe for each person it's different. But as a parent we should be sensitive to His Spirit, asking Him for discernemnt to know when and how to help open the teens hearts with thought provoking questions that dig deep into their hearts...Since He lives within us..He is going to emerge in a relational way on His timing. When I fell in love with Scott...I wasn't 'seeking' his love. It was something that grew in our hearts and one day...we knew...we knew we were meant to be together.

Jesus says, "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him" {John 6:44}

Apostle Paul said, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, 16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again to Damascus." {Galatains 1:16-17}

I believe, by scriptures, by personal experience, and by several testimonies of others, that Father draws us to Christ, Christ is who reconciled mankind to Father, and Father reveals His Son in us.

Apostle Paul said, "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory."{Colossians 1:27}

He will unfold His love for you, to you, and in you. Enjoy the journey.
girl creek by sisterlisa, on Pix-O-Sphere

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{ Hillary } at: September 4, 2010 at 10:09 AM said...

In my recent post, For the Wounded Heart Seeking Home I muse a similar thought:

Whose to say we are finished being born?

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