Saved to Die . . .

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.

churchexter (1)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 . . .

church interior (1)

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?



Breaking the Chains


With that realization of the enormity of forgiveness I’d received, of course came the reminders of the past.  I truly believed I was to make amends, specifically with family.  I continued to browbeat myself with Matthew 5:23-24  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.  Even knowing Romans 8:1, I still lived for years, believing I was no longer condemned by my Heavenly Father, but I would be perpetually attempting to reconcile with family for the rest of my life.  It never even occurred to me to forgive them, as I was always the one at fault . . .

For years, eighteen to be exact, every time the path would narrow in following Messiah, a situation of the past would present itself, and brought with it the flood of family obligation and the bondage of social expectation. I do recognize the difference between Living Water and the Dead Sea! Although I’ve known the Voice of my Heavenly Father and walked with Messiah for twenty years now, it wasn’t until two years ago, I finally recognized the 18 year incremental pattern and made peace with the fact there would be no peace in some relationships.

It was 18 years to the day in my walk with Messiah, when I heard the Voice of YHWH clearly speak, Matthew 10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.  I quickly opened my Bible, read that passage, and then the verses that followed. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.  Matthew 10:37-38.  I realized immediately, there was a choice to be made.  I had been attempting to drag some seriously old baggage down the narrow road, and if I was going to go any further, I had to let go.  I had not intentionally held family on the same level as my Creator, but that is what I’d done.  By definition, that is idolatry.  It was as if I had been fettered to that guilt and rejection so long, I thought it was just a part of me, but it was a graven image of expectation and obligation.  That is huge sin in G-d’s book!  So, while I was there in The Answer Book, I ended up in Genesis.

The first situation covering an 18 year span, seemed to appear pretty early in history, long before Messiah loosed that woman in the synagogue. The account of Abraham had a situation that went on for about 18 years, a family situation, no less.  Ishmael was 14 when Isaac was born.  The timing of his ordered departure was mentioned in correlation to a feast celebrating Isaac being weaned.  The reason given for his expulsion was mockery.   From what I’ve read, a child was weaned at about 3 to 4 years old.   We know Sarah and Hagar had a “falling out” through Hagar’s pregnancy.  Although I wasn’t there, considering human nature, I’d suggest the tension didn’t lessen after the birth of Ishmael, and we know the tension increased after Isaac arrived. Mathematically, a good estimation of time would have been about 18 years that Abraham endured and juggled that divided house before he sent Hagar and Ishmael packing.

Torah is actually best translated:  Instruction.  Abraham is mentioned throughout Scripture as being righteous, a man of faith, and G-d’s friend.  Since Abraham extricated himself from family and threw out a disrespectful kid, I decided maybe I needed to reevaluate my situation.  Even as I wrote this today, a phone call came offering yet more confirmation.

Every attempt at resolution or reconciliation with family was a distraction from the path to which I’ve been called. The past cannot be changed and at the age of 54, I realized and accepted the fact, the enemy was of my own household and would rob me of my future, if I didn’t let go.  I simply could not participate in the situational ethics demanded and to be honest, at this point being the black sheep is really a badge of honor.  I don’t want to get puffed up!

In following Messiah, I’ve been forgiven, I’m a new creation. I have been given a new life; abundant life.  The fact that the family disapproval has continued so long, is proof I can’t make up for the past of my former self, with anyone on earth.  I can’t justify or rationalize their values and perspective, I simply cannot.  There is nothing I can or should do about that.  It is absolutely impossible to exalt Exodus 20:12 above the rest of Torah.  I’m absolutely thrilled and rejoicing in gratitude to Abba, that my years with Messiah now exceed my childhood years, and those of my wasted young adult years! I’ve passed the third 18 year increment!

The completion of that third 18 year span was a milestone of major significance. I do know the truth and it has made me free!  The chains are broken.  I’ve moved on and I’m ready to tell my story.