People in church always talk about salvation. Heaven. How someday we’ll get to be with Jesus. I’m a little embarrassed to say it, but those words never sold me on the whole idea of God.
Sure, I suppose I should have cared about my eternal home, but I’m not big into long term planning.
I’m a human and by no stretch of the imagination a saintly one. I want immediate gratification. I want to know how this will benefit me today, not someday.
I’m like that with a lot of things in my life. Thank goodness we have a financial planner, because I can’t imagine a day when we won’t be working and will need money for things like… oh, I don’t know… food. If it were all up to me, we’d be on a plane to Disney World once a month trading our life savings for a week of fun.
When it came to faith, I floundered. I was in one minute and out the next. I showed up at church for the big holidays and an occasional Sunday when I was feeling especially guilty about something.
As the great songbird/poet Jimmy Buffett says, “There’s a thin line between Saturday night and Sunday morning.” Yep. That was me.
You know when it all clicked for me?
When I had no other choice.
I woke up one morning with yet another hangover. But this morning was different. I had publicly disrespected my husband at a bar the night before and he was hurt. He came into our bedroom and simply said, “You owe me an apology.”
I said I was sorry, but all of a sudden it dawned on me. This isn’t between my husband and me… this is about God and me — and what the Enemy sees as an easy way to keep me far away from the One who can give me peace, and a home filled with joy, and fulfill all of those promises I had heard growing up in the church.
I laid in the fetal position in my bed and I prayed like I had never prayed before: please God, take this away.
I heard God say, “I want to use you. But I can’t use you when I can’t trust you. And I can’t trust you when you’re drinking.”
Those words were powerful to me because they meant that perhaps God really did have a plan for my life. A plan for today. Not just someday. And it was a plan for good.
So I whispered, “Help me, God. Please take it away.”
And he did. I’ve never had another drink in my life.
That was 7 years ago.
I no longer flounder in my faith, because I know a secret. Following Jesus isn’t about my eternal salvation (although yes, that will be key someday), but for me, following Jesus is about tapping into a power to do daily life, and to do it well.
I can’t tell you exactly how this works, but for me, it went like this:
First, (seven years ago) I prayed that God would forgive me for my sins and that Jesus would take over leading my life.
Now, each morning I sit with God for a few minutes and basically say, “Let me be your vessel today. Help me to see people the way you see them. Give me your mind, your words, your eyes and your ears so that I can do life well.”
I don’t feel an electrical shock that lets me know I officially plugged into the Holy Spirit. I just trust that when I say that prayer in my head, God hears me.
So I say all that to say this… if you’ve been disenchanted with the church or confused by big words like salvation and redemption or hurt by people who call themselves Christians, do yourself a favor. Get to know God for yourself. As silly as it feels, go ahead and talk to Him anytime, anywhere.
I promise you, He is listening.