Three passages of Scripture opened my eyes, ears, and heart twenty years ago, that I continue to cling to, to this day. All three are found in the gospel according to John. I now read the Bible regularly, but the Creator of the universe spoke these verses into my spirit when I didn’t even have my Bible opened, and certainly was not walking in any sort of victory. I was an “American Christian.” I knew quite a bit about the Bible, was faithful to my husband, but had been divorced, so I was in “G-d’s permissive will.” There will be a blog dedicated to the topic of “G-d’s permissive will.” Basically, I was doing the best I could, church hopping off and on, but couldn’t find a religious gathering to join. Please let me share my experience of what it was to be an American Christian.
I “got saved” when I was ten years old. At that time, however; my desire for salvation was not about forgiveness, but about a sense of belonging . . . I just wanted to feel loved and accepted in a family, G-d’s family. Oh, I wasn’t unrepentant or trying to get saved so I could get rich or be bad, but “kid level sin” was explained at that time as, stealing a candy bar or disobedient to parents. That definition, in my case, didn’t bring much clarity of understanding. I read the passages, said the prayer, but I remember feeling very sick at my stomach when the pastor asked me to kneel and pray, turning my back toward my parents. Already by that age, life experience had taught me to never turn my back . . . I knew though, that “Jesus” would be watching over me, as I knelt vulnerably.
Once the prayer was finished, the official “confession before men” was planned, which in those days consisted of “going forward” in the next service at the precise time of the final hymn, a.k.a. the invitation. In my particular case, it was determined that I go forward when the congregation began to sing the first line of the second stanza. Then there is the vote for membership, which kind of had me worried. Even at the age of ten, I knew I was not all that popular . . . I look back knowing that isn’t even in Scripture, but I was ten and the grown-ups were heavy handed with their authority. That was the introduction to “requiring” the approval of man to follow Messiah. We had communion that morning. I was uncertain if I should participate, but with parental permission, I did and I was baptized the following week. I wanted to share this big news at school for “show and tell,” but mom said, that was not the place . . .
I wanted to do “Bible stuff!” I asked, “What do we do?” I was told, several things we don’t do, and the great thing was, ‘when I died, I’d go to heaven’ . . . To be honest, Christianity seemed to be a rather hopeless belief system to a preteen. There were plenty of things to not do and with the average lifespan, a number of years of waiting to die? Something just didn’t seem right. Then one day, at the age of 12, on the back pew, I heard the Voice and call of our Creator. He did have a plan for me! After all, He is the G-d of the living . . . Sadly, in still believing I was to please religious man to be pleasing to G-d, the path was long, treacherous, winding, and bumpy; until I came to the fork in the road many years later. I finally realized I had to choose between “The approval of man” & the Narrow Path.
Then I saw it repeatedly in Scripture that has been the case throughout history. How had I missed that?