Occasionally, my Pastor or another speaker in church, or even random Christians in conversation will reference their salvation date (or date of rebirth) and I always get a little jealous. There’s a little part of me that admires them for remembering such an important and momentous date and there’s a huge part of me that is envious of them – because their salvation seems so clean and flawless. So clean and flawless, in fact, that they can remember the exact date it occurred – heck, I’ve met some people that can remember the exact hour!
That always astounds me because my own salvation experience has always seemed so murky and blurred in my memory. I can remember going to church with a friend when I was in high school. On that day, I responded to an altar call. I can still remember the sensation. It was as if my legs were moving under a power outside myself. I couldn’t have resisted and stayed in my seat had I wanted to! When I reached the altar my friend and another church member led me in prayer. I confessed to God that I was a sinner and accepted the salvation afforded me through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. It was a big moment in my young life. I came home that evening and shared with my mom what had happened. She was the only person I told that day outside of the church.
But I’ve always wondered if that was actually my day of salvation. My life and actions following that day seem to suggest otherwise. I quickly grew distressed and dissatisfied with the hypocrisy I saw in my school peers who also went to my church. I would see them behave one way on Sunday and then completely different during the week at school and quickly ascertained that wasn’t what I wanted for myself. So I quit going. I also grew pretty bold in my rhetoric against the church and Christians. In looking back on that time in my life I’ve referred to myself as an agnostic at best and an atheist at worst. I wanted nothing to do with God and often said that if I wasn’t good enough to get into heaven based on my own merits I didn’t want to be there.
Eventually, at the age of 30, I was baptized into the Church as a believer in Jesus Christ. I was called to attend school and study the Scriptures and have become a teacher and staff member in my local church. As my understanding of doctrine and Scripture has grown I’ve come to realize that I really was saved back in high school. Salvation is based purely on the Grace of God rather than my actions. I’ve come to realize that once I accepted Christ on that day nothing could overpower Him:
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:27-30
Once God had a hold on me there was nothing I could do to escape. It just took me about 15 years to quit trying to wrestle out of His grasp. But that understanding didn’t help me where my jealousy was concerned. Whenever another Christian exclaims their date of salvation I feel little pangs of envy deep in my chest. I’ve learned to deal with that.
But I recently received a little gift from my wonderful mother who passed away sixteen years ago. Years ago, when I told her about that altar call, she made my dad go out and buy me a Bible. Because it came from my parents, that old King James Bible is now one of my most prized possessions. I was flipping through its pages earlier today when I noticed something scrawled inside the cover in my mom’s familiar handwriting. it was a date – May 7, 1985. The date of my salvation! In her wisdom, my mom knew that date was an important one and preserved it for me. When I realized what she had done I couldn’t hold back the tears of joy that flooded my eyes. My mother passed from this world into the presence of Christ many years ago, yet still found a way to give me an important gift.
Thanks Mom! I will see your beautiful face again someday! I can’t help but praise God for His faithfulness and Grace.