Salvation & Sinners

My salvation wasn’t like the ones we constantly hear about-- the ones where there are tears on the bathroom floor and an earthquake-like awakening of an indwelling Spirit. My salvation was quiet and consuming, peaceful and full of grace. It wasn’t like I expected—this surrendering of a heart. It was better and harder and all encompassing. I felt both broken and whole, vulnerable and steady; I was ready to run.

I was around 10 when I asked Jesus into my heart. Then I asked Him again and again because I wanted to be sure He was going to stay there.

I remember my parents sitting me down and asking me if I knew Jesus. I was eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream and kept scraping the bottom with my spoon, the metal clanging against the ceramic bowl, trying to savor every last bit of chocolate that was left. I gave all of the right answers and knew them in my heart to be true.

When the day for my baptism came, I wore one of my dad’s white dress shirts as my family gathered around the pool in our front yard. Familiar faces were looking down at me while my favorite verses were read and my parents wept and my Papa dunked me under the water. There were little tea candles and flowers floating gently in the water while the sun was setting, and I thought it was so beautiful and perfect and wondered if we could always let flowers and candles float in the pool. 

I didn’t realize until much later that this salvation of mine was not a one-stop shop but a continuous surrender and brokenness. I will keep coming to this place over and over, this place of desperation and the receiving of grace. I will keep having the tendency to try earning my way into heaven, like the Pharisee counting his accomplishments, and I will continue realizing that I need to be more like the tax collector, beating my chest and begging, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”  

When we start admitting we need God, it becomes easier to find Him. 

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 ‘Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.
— Luke 18:9-14

Sometimes it feels as if I’ve been walking with Jesus all my life, constantly knowing that He was right beside me in the trials and the triumphs, the guts and the glory. And other times it feels as if I am just now getting to know this God I’ve claimed to always serve. As He leads me through different stages of life, as He continues to proclaim His magnificence, God beckons deeper and deeper still and I think about this heavenly, holy Jesus in a new way.

It seems I’m walking with a flashlight and with each step I take, the light shines a bit further, reveals a little more of my surroundings -- and yet there’s still so much the light has not revealed.

But I suppose that's faith. 

The believing man does not claim to understand. He falls to his knees and whispers, ‘God.’
— A.W. Tozer