Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's a choice.

Have you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? How many times had I heard that in my life and wondered what the heck they were talking about? My son's Pastor asked me that and I remember all I could say was "I guess not." It seemed like such a magical question and all I could think was surely if I had, there was some amazing alarm bell in my heart that told me instantly that I was saved, I had faith, I knew God.

"Christians" walk around asking non-believers as they called us, this question over and over. They want us to make this proclamation but it doesn't make sense to me. I don't know what it means? How could I "accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior" when nothing religious or spiritual or magical had happened to me? I must be someone condemned because I didn't have this magical something inside that told me I had, or should, or could?

Sitting in Q pod, watching the "Christians" sit down and talk with the visiting clergy, I wondered as I often had in my life how they came to believe what they did and what must it feel like to have or be a part of that special group that I could not join. As a child, I was not part of a church or religion. More than once I can remember someone asking "well what are you?" and I didn't have an answer. This made me feel left out. "We don't go to church," was always my answer but I knew people thought less of me because of this. So watching this division play out, even here in jail was strange. Heck, we were all guilty of a crime or indiscretion which pretty much leveled the playing field. Yet again I was not part of the bible study groups or the clergy visit groups or the groups of women that gathered around to read their bibles and gossip. I was an outsider.

So what did it mean to "accept Jesus Christ" and "be a Christian"? Pastor Joy listened to my comments and questions, my objections to "church" and why I could never bring myself to this point of faith that others had. And she reduced it to a statement that finally made sense.

"It's a decision, it's simply a choice and it's your choice."

I walked around with this for a long time. I watched a girl named Chelsea open her bible, sitting on her top bunk and read it for a few minutes and put it down.

"Do you believe everything that's in there and do you understand it?" I asked.

"Yes and no, I think. When I read it, I see things that don't make sense start to make sense and I feel okay with the things in the world that don't make sense, not making sense. But it makes me feel good and okay with my life no matter what when I read it, so maybe whether I understand it or not doesn't matter. Somehow it just helps me."

I'm not sure that helped alot but at least I saw a "Christian" who wasn't sure what they had and confessed sometimes it didn't make sense to them even if they did feel it worked for them.

I learned when I was in 1st grade that 1 plus 1 equals 2 and I believed that. I've operated with that truth ever since. At the time, I didn't question it, I just believed what I was told. The obstacle to faith as an adult was I had never been told what the truth was. So it became harder and harder for me to accept something based on faith without proof. How was I to go from firm non-believer to seeking with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind? Jesus tells us that if we will bring the faith of a mustard seed we can move mountains. Moving me from non-believer to Christian was just such a mountain, so I decided to bring the faith of a mustard seed and see what would happen. Here's what I found:

One can decide to believe the world is flat or the world is round. If we decide the world is flat and ends at the horizon, then our world and our potential are limited by that reality. We stay operating with that belief system and our power to go beyond what we can see limits us. However, if we decide the world is round, that the horizon is never ending then our world and our potential in that world become never ending. We become powerful because our potential and our options and our choices become never ending. So it is with a faith in Jesus Christ.

I decided that I would simply accept that Jesus Christ was God, my God and let Him be ruler of my life. This took my world from a flat, limited space to a never ending potential ; broad and wide and full of wonder. Did something magical happen? Well yes, I guess it did. All the limits that the world would impose on me I could now turn over to Jesus Christ. He would define what my limits were and He would decide how small my word would be. Only He would define my horizon. Amazingly, and yes, He continues to amaze me every day, the God of the Bible, the one that parts the sea and raises the dead never fails to show me His limitless power and sovereignty. And that is magical indeed.

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