I am as guilty of using the lingo as the next southern woman raised her entire life sitting on a pew every Sunday and can use it with the best of ‘em.
Glory to God, I am justified, sanctified, and glorified. I am saved by the Blood of the Lamb and filled with the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits.
I was “saved” when I was ten years old. Saved out of the hell-fire and brimstone that the grey-haired preacher yelled about every Sunday morning. Typically by 11:45 he was wound up to holler volume. It was about that age that I realized that I was a sinner and without walking down front during one of the stanzas of Just As I Am that I would surely end up in the eternal lake of fire. And I didn’t want that!!!
In retrospect, I was as serious as a ten-year-old could be. But like the preacher was so good at stating, “Just one sin will separate us from God.” “Forever!”
I remember the small country church. I remember talking with my parents the week before about what it meant. I remember ‘walking the isle and inviting Jesus into my heart.” I even remember going back that Sunday night and being baptized. What I don’t remember was seeing much change in my life. I was still just as bossy to my two younger sisters. I still complained about chores and going to bed early. But I had a peace knowing that IF I died I would go to heaven. I suppose it was kinda my fire insurance so I wouldn’t burn in H E double hockey sticks!
Life rocked along as it has a tendency to do when you’re a teenager. All was good in my world. My parents were pretty strict so there was little chance that I could ever do anything to get in serious trouble. Beyond not making my bed or complaining about having to mow the yard I was pretty good. The summer of my ninth grade our church sponsored a countywide revival… we met out on the football field and an evangelist preached every night that week with a grand finally on Saturday night. I felt like he must have talked to my parents because it felt like he was preaching straight to me. By Saturday I couldn’t take it any more and I got up out of my seat in the bleachers and walked onto the football field and prayed the ‘sinners prayer’ with some lady standing in front of the platform. She talked about how God wanted to be my friend and all I needed to do was talk to Him.
Yay! It was settled! That lasted about two weeks, school started and I was back in the same routine of sleeping until the last minute and driving like a bat out of you-know-where all the way to school.
Fast forward and I’m off to college. My hormones told me if I didn’t get married I would surely die so that’s exactly what we did and two years later God gave us a baby boy and two more years a baby girl. I say that God gave us these kids because He knew that it would be parenthood that brought me to a personal relationship with Him. My desire to be a good mother and train my children in spiritual things caused me to focus my attention of God and knowing spiritual things for myself. I knew I had not been a very good friend; no wonder God hadn’t been talking to me. I hadn’t tried to talk to Him.
For me salvation, my deliverance from sin through Jesus came at age ten but my personal friendship with Him came as an adult. Just like human friendships ebb and flow, my friendship with Jesus has had mountains and valleys. But just as sure as I know that I know – regardless of how bad you mess up, like even if you really messed up, Jesus is closer than your next breath if you:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. Romand 10:9-10
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Cindy Willingham is a landscape designer, small group leader, avid encourager, and sinner saved by grace who is ten years new to Birmingham, Alabama. Her sweet husband of 38 years, two married children and four grand-kiddos fill her life with unbelievable fun and sweet snuggles. She thinks God is awesome and that the best adventure starts with saying yes to that still, small voice. ~ To read Cindy’s BoP Bio click here.