I was saved the other day.
I’d been thinking about how much I’d like to begin afresh, to start over with some aspects of my life, to wake up one day and not be the same angry, neurotic basketcase I normally am (on the inside, at least.) I was thinking about how it might feel to be “saved” in the way you always hear about, “reborn” to a life in Christ. What sort of energy would that give a person toward being a better, more useful human? I thought about how much I’d love to have that kind of renewed spirit.
In the 13 months that we’ve lived in our new home, we haven’t once had anyone come to our door spreading the Good Word. Well that very evening, after I had the roundabout wish to be saved, a preacher from a local Baptist church came to my house.
In previous encounters in past residences, I have politely but firmly sent them on their way. But he was a much older man and it was hot outside, so I offered him a glass of ice water. We’d just gotten our new porch furniture, so I was able to offer him a seat outside and sit with him for a moment.
He gave me his schpiel and didn’t say anything that would have made me stop listening, such as talk of the devil or hell. I do not believe in them and I will not allow someone to harangue me on the subject, unless I’m having a philosophical conversation with a trusted friend.
His sales talk led him to ask me if I’d like to pray with him to be saved (I am paraphrasing everything he said, because I’m not familiar enough with the Evangelical lingo to parrot it exactly.) For a second I flashed on the story of the man trapped on the roof of his house in a flood. He prayed to God to be saved. A man rowing a boat came by and told him to hop in, but the man refused, saying God would save him. A helicopter flew by and threw down a rope, but the man refused, saying God would save him. A while later he died in the flood. When he saw God, he sadly asked why God didn’t save him. God said, “I sent a boat and a helicopter, what else did you want?”
I wasn’t going to send away this rescue mission, having just hours ago requested it.
So I said I’d like to say the prayer with him. He asked me to repeat the words after him and to believe them as I say them. I remember answering, “If I believe them, I’ll repeat them.” I wasn’t going to say anything I didn’t actually believe.
The prayer was about accepting and trusting Jesus, following him, stating that he died for our redemption, that sort of thing (again, I’m paraphrasing). I really did believe everything he said.
Then we exchanged some further niceties, he said he’d see me in heaven, and he left.
Afterwards I was very aware of how I was feeling, and what might have been different. He had talked about how now I was saved and forgiven of all my sins, past, present and future. I’ve always rejected this idea, because it seems like a carte blanche to engage in all kinds of less-than-holy behaviors, and it also seems to eliminate accountability for future errors.
But I felt a bit lighter, and it occurred to me how much Catholic guilt I’d been living with my whole life, and that this might be an experiment in letting go of all that. I’d operated my entire existence under the assumption that I was a horrible sinner who had probably committed some awful sin when I wasn’t paying attention and if I got hit by a bus, I’d see that my tally sheet was woefully in the red.
According to this man, I was now saved no matter what. You can’t earn heaven, he’d said, it’s a gift, and all you have to do is accept it.
How would my life look and feel different if, instead of feeling this constant, nagging guilt, I had a sense of lightness and joy? If I had a sure sense that Jesus really did save us all with His selfless life and sacrifice?
In the days since I was saved, I have mostly forgotten to remember that I am saved and to live accordingly. Old habits die hard. I’d love to live in joy, even if I feel pain. I’d love to always come from a place of love, even in the face of challenges. I’d love to trust completely in SOMETHING, anything, even the ground under my feet.
Have you ever been saved? How did it change your life?