Teetering on the Edge of Salvation

So many Christ-followers live with shame and regret. Embracing the vast love and forgiveness of God, along with His power to change us simply by reaching out and grabbing the brass ring, seems far too abstract.

Instead, they are emotionally captive to the belief that they are teetering on the edge of salvation. Walled in with steel bars of, “I must do something to receive it,” holds them captive – prisoners in our own minds.

teetering on the edge

That was me. Shame and regret followed the people of the cult, but we sure wouldn’t admit it. Instead of admitting brokenness, we claimed the promises of God and become more and more self-righteous. We were too busy speaking freedom, to actually live it.

Fundamental to the core in every aspect of “obedience,” I was more mental, than fun. I followed “the Word,” and dared anyone to challenge me otherwise. I had scriptures to back up everything I did, and I could argue the theological pants off of most, and leave them naked and running for cover. It was bad and abusive theology, surrounded by too much fear to listen to the viewpoints of others. If we admitted one of our doctrines could be wrong, then everything could be a myriad of fables and our “Truth” house of cards would come tumbling down.

Of course, it was ridiculous to even consider we could be wrong.

The iron bars of what I believed to be “sound doctrine” kept from knowing the freedom that Jesus bought and paid for. I thought I was keeping the “world” out, but instead I was locked in a prison of spiritual abuse.

I was “saved” and never questioned it, “purchased by the shed blood of Jesus Christ,” and there was nothing I could do to add to it.

Yet, I lived my life filled with rules upon rules, and the pain of knowing I never got a one day, one hour, one minute of my “walk with Jesus” right. “Be ye perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” was not happening (Matt. 5:48). I was disgusted with myself, and my constant sin and failures. Where was the “new creation” the bibles spoke about.

A well-hidden self-hatred was becoming a perfectly orchestrated symphony in the cycle of read, pray, fail. Quite plainly, life sucked.  

The beautiful song Amazing Grace, sardonically was lived out more like this,

“Amazing grace was a sweet sound that saved a wretch like me.  I once was free but now I’m bound, my doctrine captured me.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, but hearts are soon deceived, that grace began to disappear the longer I believed.

The Lord has promised good to me, but sin, my doubts secured, I can’t believe His grace for me, my failures He’ll endure.

My chains were gone, I was set free, but works soon came and ransomed me. And like a flood, my life swept in, and kept me drowning in my sin.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow, the sun forbear to shine. If I keep struggling to do right, perhaps I’ll make Him mine. I hope I make Him mine.”   (For the record, I love the song Amazing Grace, by John Newton, and the story behind it.The adaptations and liberties were taken by me to prove a point.)

I see it everywhere I go – people going down front to get right with God – again, and again, and again, and again. Or telling me, “…but you don’t know what I’ve done; if you knew what I’ve done…”

If salvation by grace and not by works, why the need to repeat the event over, and over, and over, again, based upon our human failures

Even if our theological views hold to eternal security, the shame and regret of being anything less than perfect in our daily “walk,” still prevails. It just isn’t publicly revealed in a weekly jaunt to the alter – making it easier to wear our masks of perfection while the cloak of self-doubt hangs draped across the back of our chairs.

I worked so hard to make sure I pleased God. I didn’t really believe I was teetering on the edge of salvation, because I knew the Word, claimed the promises, and walked in obedience. I just knew I never pleased Him. Ever.

If I could just stop yelling at my kids; be a more submissive wife; stay in my bible more; pray more; serve others more; stop yelling at my kids; forgive more, quite wanting my own way; stop yelling at my kids. (Apparently the long skirts, isolationist life, separation from worldly TV and music, and never using a doctor wasn’t enough.)

Oh, and stop yelling at my kids. 

Always busy doing the right things, there was hardly any time to be still before God, and listen to the voice of Jesus beckoning me to be loved, and love, from a place of grace.  

The pressure to “conform” and have my mind “renewed” was insurmountable and unattainable. Who I was created to be, and who I was as an individual, no longer mattered in the fundamental teachings of conformity, and obedience. There is no such thing as individuals, just unity in the body of Christ.

I knew the Word of God far more than I knew God; I knew the Word of God far more than I knew myself. 

At least I thought I knew the Word of God – but you can’t have one without the other. You can’t know God without first knowing the Love of Christ. Jesus is His word. Jesus loves us. He proved that.

He reveals to us what life can really be like when it is lived from a place of reckless passionate, crazy, laughing, and uncontrollable, surrender, in perfect Love. 

No bars, no chains, no “have to’s”… Just a whole big heart full of “want to’s.”

It’s a life of laughing without guilt, fighting without condemnation, repenting without shame, praying with hope, and living with Love.

It’s messy but marvelous, broken but beautiful, crushing but life giving, dark but light, losing, gaining, moving, standing, quiet, shouting, perfect, damaged – life to the fullest, life.

It is knowing that God’s love for us is,

Immeasurable. Unfathomable. Indescribable. Unstoppable. 

It never leaves us teetering on the edge of Salvation. Ever. 

The un- Faithfulness of God

One of our sons had a potentially deadly car accident last week. After a long night of work, sleep deprived, and suffering a bad head cold, he found himself facing off with a semi-truck – an “eighteen wheeler.” The truck flipped and exploded and his small car was totaled, but mercifully no one was significantly injured. My son tore some ligaments in his ankle and will be in a type of cast for a little while – minor under the circumstances.

god is love 2

I only mentioned it to a few people for various reasons. First, everyone was fine, and I was respecting my son’s privacy. There was no fault or wrongdoing, it just happened. My other hesitation in telling others, was because of the common response when you share a story with a happy ending,

“God is faithful.” 

Yes, God is faithful, God is just, God is merciful, God is kind, God is long-suffering, God is patient, God is compassionate, God is love, God is…

And if my son had been more seriously injured or killed, God would still be all of the above and more. 

To claim the faithfulness of God only in reference to happy endings, good times, and “blessings,” is to deny His very nature. It is a very American God. God is love. (I John 4:8,16) He is always love.

He doesn’t cease to be love in the face of suffering. He is not un – faithful in face of loss or devastation. 

God was merciful last week, He was present, and He was not caught unaware, but humans make choices, make mistakes, suffer illness – humans are humans and good things and bad things happen in life.

God was faithful when our beloved son’s life was spared last week and God was faithful when our beloved son died in 1990. Two sons with two different results, one God with eternal purpose.

God is faithful – at all times, in all situations. 

god-is-love

I spoke with a friend recently who lost a nephew in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center. We briefly touched on the pictures and statements that float around the internet bestowing the faithful and miraculous intervention of God to save lives on September 11th. What about the thousands who died? I have to agree – once again it claims God’s present faithfulness in the miraculous of saving lives but his absence in hardship.  ( God in suffering )

God resides in suffering as much as in joy. I believe, He is even more present when we need Him the most – even more “faithful.” We may not feel it, we may not want to think about it, we may want to curse God and die, but He is still faithful towards us.

The faithfulness of God is a prevailing theme in the bible, one that is far too extensive to cover in a blog post. The Psalms are filled with the faithfulness of God as a source of hope and encouragement after dark times with a, “but will I trust in you.” David lamented through the faithfulness of God continuously.

In the book of Lamentations, after the destruction of Jerusalem, the prophet Jeremiah spoke about God’s faithfulness to restore. (The definition of lament is a passionate response to grief or sorrow.) Even though the destruction had been prophesied and promised due to their disobedience, the covenant of God’s faithfulness was sufficient for Jeremiah to encourage hope in the people of Israel.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul,                                                         ‘therefore I will hope in him.’” 

But we have Christ so all of the promises of God are yes and amen in Him, right?

Yes! The promise is that He will be present with us in all of our suffering, and hardship, and blessings, and goodness – all things. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Rom. 8:39) He was with Paul in prison, exiled, and put to death. He was with Stephen stoned. He was with the Saints in the upper room.

When we proclaim the faithfulness of God in reference to deliverance only, we expunge hope in the Good News as life changing and life sustaining.

It is easy to believe in a God who will reward us with all good things, but necessary to know the God who sustains us through all things. 

God is faithful. He can’t be otherwise.