Read Part One here.
When people tell you about salvation they tell you many things.
They tell you how much God loves you. They tell you that your sins will be forgiven and you’ll be free (they never say of what exactly though). They tell you that heaven awaits you on the other side. They tell you of the fiery flames of hell that you don’t want get caught up in. They tell you to choose life…eternal life.
They conveniently leave out the part where you have to die.
I’d be tempted to hold it against them. But I don’t think they even know.
The first time I heard about the Cross was in Sunday School. I don’t remember exactly what the message was but it was something along the lines of Jesus loves me and He wants me in heaven with Him. All I had to do was say a simple prayer and believe what I was saying. Sounded simple enough. So I did.
As the years went by, I repeated that prayer several more times with a few amendments here and there. Just in case I’d spoken too softly or not believed enough those other times. Just in case the angel who writes those names in the Book of Life got too many of them at the same time and forgot mine. Just in case he’d confused me with another Mary-the world’s most common name. This is eternity we’re talking about. It doesn’t hurt to be sure.
Then came the inevitable question-does God really exist? Where was the proof, the evidence? I looked around and found none. There was no tangible, irrefutable thing that I could hold up in the air and yell-HERE IS PROOF THAT GOD EXISTS! But I came to an interesting conclusion-my life felt more right with God in it than without Him. Even with all the questions I still had something inside me just held onto Him and refused to let go. I’m well aware that’s hardly a sufficient answer for any skeptic but since when did faith-the substance of things not yet seen-become logical?
Something was amiss though. I’d started riding from one song to the next, one sermon to the next, one prayer to the next looking for something that seemed to be there one minute and gone the next. Until the next song, the next sermon, the next prayer. I felt like a junkie looking for their next high. And it was getting harder and harder to find a high that was, well, high enough. I was going through the motions-the one thing I’d promised God and myself I’d never do.
Is this it?
Is this all there is?
If I had a dollar for all the times I’ve asked those questions…
I stopped going to church regularly. Not because I no longer believed in God. I just wasn’t going to sit through service after service pretending God and I were ok. We weren’t. We both knew it. Whether or not anybody else knew it didn’t matter. I had too much respect for Him to attempt to present a hypocritical façade. He wasn’t going to buy it, why bother selling it to anyone else?
See He wanted me to do something I wasn’t ready to.
He wanted me to die.
I’d surrendered most of my life to Him but He wanted what was left. The part of me I gave to absolutely no one. The part of me that had big dreams of what I was going to do with my writing and my life as a whole. The most important part of me.
When I flung that door open, I wasn’t just angry, I was furious. Why couldn’t He just let me be happy? Why did He have to take away the one thing that made me happy? Why couldn’t He just be ok with the 98% I’d given Him?
When I flung that door open, I was terrified. Because I knew that He was going to take away that last 2% and I’d have nothing left. After all the years I’d spent fighting to hold onto myself, Mary as I knew her would be gone. Just like that.
What was I supposed to do then?
Who was I supposed to be?
When I flung that door open and saw the look in His eyes, I knew it was going to be worse, far worse, than I’d feared it would be.
But there was something else in His eyes.
(To be continued.)