jesus saves

i will never forget the moment i accepted Christ. when i was at vacation bible school around seven years old,  i wanted this thing i’d been hearing about since birth that seemed to change everyone around me. i had prayed a prayer at a puppet show previously when i was four–a moment i remember vividly–but i just didn’t feel like it had done the job. maybe if i prayed a little harder and got baptised that would do it, i thought.

it didn’t.

i spent many years of my youth ritualistically praying in my room alone and sometimes with my parents and sometimes in the church pew. i was doing everything right. i threw my system of a down cds in the church trash can and i didn’t know any bad words. i read my bible. why couldn’t i feel secure in my salvation? i would waver between frustration and desperation over this, sometimes being able to put it out of my mind and sometimes plagued with obsession. this created a deeply-rooted insecurity in me that still exists today in my weakest and messiest moment. i started researching the subject of eternal security, a subject that–if you know me well, you know–is something i am very passionate about. i often fail to explain why: it helped me understand the truth of salvation and studying it ultimately led to my personal acceptance of Jesus Christ.

my dad gave me a book when i was 19 that would ultimately end up changing my life. “what every christian ought to know: essential truths for growing your faith.” i started reading it on the way to atlanta for the forward conference the summer of 2007. chapters two and three had me feeling so insecure. here i was on a church trip in a church van going to a church conference with my christian friends, and i was feeling scared that i wasn’t really saved again. a familiar feeling that i liked to put out of my mind. i chalked it up to “everyone feels this way.” but in my heart i knew that i was different than these people around me. my heart wasn’t the same. my joy was flawed and inauthentic. i just didn’t understand.

i started getting angrier as the day went on. i was praying for reassurance. i was praying so hard i was sweating. i remember so vividly telling God how angry i was at him for letting me feel this way. “have i not done enough for You to just give me peace about this? i witness to people for You. i act right. i think right. i do everything i know to do.”

and then i got bold. in the middle of the conference as everyone around me was getting their Jesus on, i was frustrated. i couldn’t take it anymore. i looked up at the ceiling as if Jesus was hanging out in the rafters and i said in prayer that if i could not resolve to know Him i was giving up right then. i would rather revoke everything i had ever said of Him, unlearn everything i had every heard of Him than to feel inauthentic and tired in my “relationship” with Him.

i was scared lightening would strike me dead, as i had been a big rituatlistic actor for years in my faith–and knowing that renouncing Christ was the one unforgivable sin.

then something i will never be able to explain happened. it wasn’t a special song, but i will remember it forever. hillsong united started singing “hosanna” and i started feeling something different in my heart. for the first time in my life, the Lord was clearly speaking to me. the Lord said to me in my heart that i had been putting on a show for years. i had been reaching and doing and trying to climb my way to heaven through my actions and that was just silly, impossible, missing the mark. how could i misinterpret His word after hearing it so often for so long? the reason Christ is different from all other religions in society today is because all I have to do is accept Him. He has done the work for me. He died for me–for every failure, every stumble, every sin in my life and in the lives of all who live.

i cannot save myself. i cannot earn salvation. i cannot gain salvation. i can only accept Him. i accepted Christ that night in 2007. it may sound looney and it may not sound like a moment worthy of explaining in such depth–but in that moment i was finally alive in my Spirit, and i was full of joy knowing what it truly meant that Christ had died on the Cross for me.

i have never really shared that moment before here or anywhere. i had so much pride in being saved since i was a child even after that night. i didn’t want to be seen as a “new christian.” man, my pride has always crippled me. i feel it is important to discuss the journey now, because i realized some things today. salvation doesn’t insure a perfect life. it doesn’t mean putting on a face that everything is OK. it’s not black and white. christians are sinners like everyone. they’re hypocrites and failures and a bunch a gray people in a gray world. it’s Christ in Christ-followers who is unblemished, and sometimes Christians don’t display the Lord accurately. sometimes they don’t display Him at all.

i’ve been conflicted for a year and a half. i started hiding from church. i don’t know if i have been to a service three times between today’s easter service and last year’s. at first i was OK. then i became lazy because of work, and then i didn’t want to admit i was struggling with sin. i didn’t want to admit i had gotten into a pit that i couldn’t get out of. i wanted to still be the erin in choir, organizing mission trips, leading bible studies, interning in the youth department. but i made some choices that i felt were inappropriate for those roles (like drinking, bad relationships, etc.), and i bowed out. rather than seeking Godly council, i progressed to a point where my heart was hard and blinded with my earthly choices.

i realized this today. i kept nursery, and hugging on the babies and seeing lovey-dovey couples made me feel so agonizingly helpless and impatient. i often give in to this desire to keep up with everyone around me. i’m too old to hunt easter eggs. i can’t pretend to be a kid this year to avoid feeling bad. i can’t stay out of work like i could ditch on college classes. i’m almost 24. i want to be on my way to starting a family and a life beyond myself. then i remember that when i accepted Christ, i accepted that even though it’s natural for me to be stubborn, impatient and selfish–i’ve got to wait. if i don’t wait on Him and His time and take things into my own hands, my life will be a tornado full of murk and trash like many moments of the past two years have been. if i do wait, i will be rewarded.

He put Philippians 1:6 in my head to comfort me today. though i am not happy, that’s just my circumstances. i have my joy in knowing that the most important thing in my life, my relationship with Christ, is fully intact and growing again. the Lord has placed specific desires and traits within me. i am not letting go of the hopes i know are of Him for i know i can be confident He will fulfill them in His time. it is my job to take in his word, give to others and live a life each day accepting and appreciating what He did for me on the Cross.

it has never been me. it has always been Him. and i’m glad to have that straightened out in my heart again.

i post this in hopes that my vain journey around the bend for quite some time will resonate with someone who reads this and that they will be inspired to put their pride, their confusion, their stubborness, their sin, their sorrow, their circumstances aside and see the simplicity of returning to Christ.

Philippians 1:6: “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”

i’m tired of wasting moments talking about the tragedy of wasting moments.

Monday, November 12, 2007

it’s small today. this is definitely a brain vomit. i thought it; i wrote it.
you won’t understand half of it. it’s intentional–because you can’t.
but i write it in hopes that you will, because isn’t that the point?

break ups are silly, until it’s your own turn.
it’s hard to love someone, but simultaneously know that it is the end.
there comes a point when tomorrow is yesterday,
and the cynical sarcasm isn’t enough to keep things together.
the outwardly-projected illusion of “us” isn’t worth the reality of every internal brick i’ve laid in my walls.
i feel sour.
i feel like that ugly black banana everyone scoffs at in the grocery store,
but i’m ok with that.
at least that pitiful little banana peacefully sits there NOT remembering how it got to be so smooshed up.
you can wipe the slobber off of your chin at the fact that i’m airing my dirty little
laundry out for all to read, but who would keep me from it? who wouldn’t listen?
you see, i am not mad at him. i mad at me. i cannot control him, but i can control me.
and i am exhausted from the concept of regret. who even knows what it is?
to wish you hadn’t done something is to wish you weren’t
who you are today–how can one be so terribly ungrateful?
i find myself disappointed in my weak moments, but without them,
how could i really know the Lord? it is in my strongest times that i let God ride shotgun.
i would even say i look forward to these holes in life, because i always find
myself seeing something instead of just seeing.
seeing instead of seeing,
yes i said it, and, no, i’m not insane–because there is a difference.
bananas in the grocery store. yeah, turn me yellow to black.
i’ll buy these hide and seek dresses. do you think it can fix the inside, though?
or is that what you were aiming to do, dear father?
oh wait, or did you do it, because i could have sworn you said it was my fault.
oh you did? oh, i’m troubled, eh, granny? speak up, i can’t hear through the
stutters fumbling out of your mouth from onset of your crazy pills.
don’t touch me, don’t try me. i won’t respect you, because i’ve been a player
on this gameboard for an aching lifetime, and who has the compass pointing to right?
one right in a deck of wrong? it surely seems not. when will i ever know?
i know. i’m hilarious. invite me over to tell you some jokes.
you’ll get a good work out. (obviously, i’m cocky, too.)
but do you know why i am the way i am? i haven’t always been
crazy, lets jam out in the car, say what i want to, insanely outgoing
Nope, not always.
See, I spent a lot of time growing up feeling sorry for myself.
feeling sorry for myself because i was the fat 200lb. middle schooler.
having pity parties because i was a nerd, a naive little nothing,
for all the “injustice” in my life, for all the things everyone “did to me.”
well, who gives a flying crap? i got tired of being that person.
no one is capable of doing anything to me that i don’t let them.
how sinfully stupid to sit around and feel bad for nothing.
it’s an exhausting way to live.
and when i finally let go of all of it, knock, knock:
surprise, its me! this is who was there.
i laugh at myself, and many things around me–i’m easily cynical, because i’ve seen a lot.
i find joy in the most awkward situations. i get pretty deep about things, and i need to lighten up alot.
i find compassion in the hardest places, but i am also plagued with selfishness enough to miss the opportunity.
i find endurance in the scariest times, but many times, i break down in the dumbest places,
which even gives me a headache trying to figure out why.
i try to stay so on the surface of life sometimes, living in the trivialities of routine and habit.
i like that side of me, but there is another really scary, broken and deep side of me that i like to bury many days.
and you, of all people, brought this on. No, not you, You. and you know, but not you.
or maybe it was several instances, who knows.
You don’t, but thank you. But then again, no.
You are a subjectless subject subjecting yourself.
I would give you many titles, but how could i when i can’t write a line.
I see all of you, but i haven’t seen your face.
But isn’t that the most powerful thing?
i’m so full of riddles, but do they have joyful answers? i’m looking for them

so, i’m pondering my God for a minute.

i just had the strangest thought. being that it’s 2:42 AM, i’m probably hallucinating, but i just had one of those moments where God gave me the vision again.

See, sometimes I joke with God, because we’re tight–and he made me funny, ya know? and he made me funny for a reason–to be funny for him–so that’s part of my worship. strange, you say? absolutely not. i’m sick of people thinking worshipping God is strictly through music. God made us so that He could love us, wanting nothing back but love in return–and like Eric told me one time, God don’t make no trash.

In the easiest way I know how to say it, God is basically the coolest thing ever, so he makes us like him, so we can have special little bits of his coolness. Sometimes we get caught up on what church and religion tell us is worship, but church isn’t God. I worship God when I see the beauty in something he’s created and I have the urge to paint it. I worship God when I cry over some injustice in life. I worship God when I see someone and I feel led to pray for them. In every attempt I make to know my God a little better, I worship him.

I take pride in who He made me to be. I take pride in being too emotional and stubborn, because God is emotional and stubborn. I take pride in being creative and outgoing, because God is creative and outgoing. Next time you really look at the natural earth, think about the beautiful the art is that God has made. Next time you really try to listen to God, see how much He talks to you. Sure, you may not hear a verbal, booming voice–but I sure do know when God’s saying something to me. And when I’m listening, I can’t stop hearing God. Crap, when I’m not listening, God gets even louder.

I guess I write all this because for so long, I had this trivial, shallow, formal relationship with God. I believed in God like I believe Uranus is floating around in space. I believed He was real and alive, but he was nothing personal for me. I hate to see people walk in that. It brings so much doubt. God is my friend. And that may sound cliche and silly–until you try it. I love just talking to God throughout the day about random things. Like I said, I joke around with God. I miss God when I push Him away and don’t make time for Him.

I get tired of people, including myself, missing out on just how awesome their relationship with God can be. They think of God as some solemn old man with a lightning rod ready to strike you down, and I just don’t believe a God that made me so that He could love me would be that cruel and distant. God didn’t need me. I hate living life like i’m doing Him some favor by giving him the tiniest bit of time i can in the day to learn how to live life like He did while He walked here on this earth, but it is so easy to forget that not only did He make us–He made a way for us to have a secure eternity in perfect happiness–and all He asks is that we believe in Him and do our human best to lead others to Him. How do I not live life worshipping 24/7. I blow my own mind.

So, that’s what God just told me. All I have to do is worship. Quit feeling sorry and worrying about all my mistakes, and take the moments you’re wasting and get up and do what you’re created and called to do. What could be easier? What could make me more happy or fulfilled than that?