Wednesday, February 6, 2013

fear and trembling.

{photo by Nicholas Strobelt}

A friend sent me an email last week asking questions about faith and salvation, questions I felt completely unqualified to answer. The thing is, though, very few of us are actually qualified to answer any questions about faith and life and spirit; they're too deep, too mysterious for any of us. So I did my best to give my friend words I think are truth, words I believe and am trying desperately to live by. 

My friend's question had to do with the timing of salvation, the point at which we accept God's grace and become one of His. And I don't know for sure when that happens, mostly because I believe it is still happening. I believe every day I wake up is an opportunity to fall into more of His grace, to work out my salvation, as Paul put it, with fear and trembling. 

The older I get, the more mysterious I believe it all is, and the more comforting I find that mystery. Don't misunderstand: I am confident in my salvation. I do not wake up every morning in fear He will no longer choose me. I just don't believe salvation is instantaneous; I believe it is continual. It is a choice, on my part, and I think, to some extent, it is a choice on His. I cemented my choice way back then, as a scrawny 13 year old dunked under water, and every day I continue to make that choice real and true.

When I was a little girl, issues on salvation concerned me. I went to an evangelical Christian school whose beliefs on the subject of salvation didn't align perfectly with my parents' and my church's views, and as a kid, that was often confusing. I never knew if I needed to raise my hand and recite the sinner's prayer; in fact, looking back, I may have said it a couple of times just to make sure I was covered (and so well-meaning teachers would stop trying to "save" me every chance they got). 

I'm different now. I believe salvation matters -- oh, how it matters! But I don't want to argue about the ins and outs and hows and whys. I don't want to argue about them, because I firmly believe those arguments -- Scripture against Scripture, belief against belief -- take away the power and mystery of it all. I want to embrace the magic, and I want to continue to work out all the knots and twists in my story.

My friend, I think, will have to continue wrestling too. I think as people, we like certainty. We like knowing we did it right. We like checking things off the list. 

Faith, I am realizing, doesn't easily befriend certainty. Instead, it embraces mystery. 

I am trying to do the same.  


Angela said...

"Faith, I am realizing, doesn't easily befriend certainty. Instead, it embraces mystery."

I love this line! So much wisdom in this post, thanks for sharing.

Hailey Marie said...

Oh I loved this! I have been feeling a similar shift in my faith and have found myself thinking time and again, in hard situations or while wrestling over theological debates, "Why Not?". Why not believe that our deceased loved ones can still communicate to us, why not believe that the Holy Spirit can come to us in the form of a butterfly or breeze, why not embrace the mystery and beauty of it all. I know it sounds hippie-dippie, but for years I have been so steadfast about the black-and-white of God's nature and what scripture says, but I think living a life of love also involves a lot of the "why not's and what ifs" of the grey area.