Saturday, August 1, 2015

Blessed Assurance

I discovered a hidden treasure the other day. While going through boxes of my parent's belongings, I came across a precious piece of paper. In my father's handwriting is a testimony worksheet he had filled out in which he shares how he received Christ and how his life was different because of this. Oh! What a find! And while I have made copies for my siblings, I'm claiming the original for myself. This is why:

Among the things my dad shares in this testimony are several scripture references to verses he was memorizing or found especially comforting to him because of the promises offered. As i jotted these down and began to look them up, something amazing came to light. With the exception of only a few, every single one was something already highlighted in my bible as special to me! With the first two discoveries I just smiled and thought how nice. But as more of them matched my own a little shiver ran up my spine.

 This was not a coincidence. Sure these verses are favorites of many. Verses like "He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities... and by his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53.5 KJV) or this one from Romans 8.1: "So now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." (KJV) But a few of them were less commonly quoted or familiar. Yet at one time or another, in my bible readings, these same verses my dad loved, were underlined or highlighted as special to me for one reason or another.

As to the verses that were not a match to my underlined ones this one in particular jumped out at me: "I assure you, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me, have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins but they already have passed from death into life." (John 5.24 NLT)

Why did this verse grab my attention?

Well, even though I asked Jesus into my heart when I was 9 years old, I have experienced many times in my life where my salvation felt troubled. Fear and doubt would creep in, making myself question my salvation. I remember as a young girl coming home to find an empty kitchen. A pot was simmering on the stove and while my mother's presence was palpable she was nowhere to be found. My mother was always there when we came home from school. Always. But not this day. Fear struck my heart and I gulped. Terror gripped me as I searched the house calling out her name. I was sure the Rapture had occurred and I'd been left behind! You can imagine my immense comfort when my mother wandered in, fresh from a visit to the neighbors for an impromptu tea visit. And while I nearly collapsed in relief, I was unable to share with her the anxiety and fear I'd just experienced. How could I explain it when I was "supposed to be" a Christian?

I am a little embarrassed to admit that this doubt would continue to haunt me on more than a few occasions. A quiet room when someone had been in it just moments before. A sick feeling coming over me when hearing of terrible things going on in our nation (9-11) and thinking "this is it, the end is near" and being afraid that no matter how many times I'd prayed again to be saved, because I wanted to make sure, I'd still somehow fallen short of being one of those counted righteous in His Sight.

It wasn't a pretty feeling.

Thankfully, in part because of a praying husband, I was able to work through this over time and reach a point where I could say I was sure that I was not going to be left behind. I could rest in God's promise when He said he's adopted me into His family and I will spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

Why I experienced such doubt over my salvation, I can't explain. Perhaps my childhood traumas and later the betrayals by one who professed to love me, played into my psyche and fed that vein of low self esteem: I'm not worthy, I don't deserve salvation. I'm still not good enough for God. Well, here's the deal-- all of that is true! I'm NOT worthy. But because of God's amazing grace and endless love, He accepts me anyway. Funny how I seem to always need reminders of this... but then, we all have an Achilles heel that the enemy loves to poke at. We all have a propensity to something and apparently this was mine. How thankful I was when I realized that particular monkey was off my back.

So, then, coming across this verse the other day was a strong but gentle reminder that I can continue to rest in the promise Jesus gave. The fact that this reminder from my Heavenly Father, came via my other father is a significant factor for me. No matter how many times I struggle in my daily walk with the Lord, no matter the desert-dry days in my spiritual walk, I am still a Child of God. No matter how long I sit in front of a blank page cursing the blinking curser of my computer screen because of writer's block, no matter how apathetic I feel, no matter the brain fog or feelings of lethargy, it does not change Who I Am in Christ.

I am God's girl.
I am forgiven.
I am saved.
I will inherit His riches.
I will be in His Kingdom.
Indeed I already am.

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine
O what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of Salvation, Purchase of God
Born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood.

This is my story, this is my song, 
praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song, 
praising my Savior all the day long *

*Fanny Crosby

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