When I was in my 20s, I was obsessed with the fear that I was not actually saved — that my so-called “faith” was nothing but an elaborate web of self-deception that would end in eternal damnation.
I spent a lot of my early Christian walk hiding the areas of brokenness of which I was most ashamed. It was like I believed the worst stuff would go away if I simply didn’t acknowledge it. All it did, however, was cover up the symptoms until my issues bubbled to the surface, causing me to sink into shame. But over the years, the Lord spoke a lot of comfort to me with this Bible story about a man who was seen as unapproachable.
This is a story about a law student, a partner at a firm, and gross towel usage. Brace yourself. Here we go.
Most of my life, I’ve resented Barrabas, the criminal who got released on Good Friday instead of Jesus, who was sent off to be tortured to death. Now, I’m grateful for his example.
Some of the people I most admire love themselves really well. They’re not hard on themselves. They give themselves room to grow and figure things out. They like themselves. I find it easy to be around those folks. There’s something special going on with them.
Last week, I wrote an op-ed for Fox News Opinion called, “How to Know the Moment When You Really Got Saved.” I have never written something that provoked so many comments, personal emails, or Facebook messages. Fortunately, most of the responses were filled with awe at how completely God saved us through the blood of His Son, Jesus. And one of those messages, in particular, touched me.
I grew up in the Deep South, an area heavily influenced by the evangelical Christian faith. For many of us southern believers, the best articulation of our theology of salvation was the phrase, “Once saved, always saved.” The idea basically boils down to this: Jesus died on the cross for your sins, and once you say the “sinner’s prayer,” you are forever saved, and it can’t be undone, no matter what you do.
My hair isn’t that complicated. So when I sat down in the chair to get it cut this week, I assumed it would be a relatively quick and easy experience. I was wrong, dead wrong.
I know I’m supposed to like the whole Bible – especially anything Jesus said. But there are a few parts that get under my skin. One in particular is this passage from Luke 17:3-4: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, ‘I repent,’ you shall forgive him.”
In my first year of marriage, my wife and I got into a disagreement while visiting someone else’s home. We went to the guest room to hash it out privately—but we had no idea how badly we were about to embarrass ourselves.
When I was in college, I lived with the perpetual fear that somehow I had missed the salvation boat, that although I had placed my trust in Jesus, in the end, I would come before God’s throne, and He would shake His head and say, “I’m sorry, but you just thought you were saved.”
Five years ago, I was at a wedding rehearsal dinner and I was seated next to Lula Rawls, a quiet, elderly woman who had been married for over sixty years. She was the grandmother of the groom; and in light of all the hopefulness surrounding the young couple’s nuptials, I wondered what wisdom she had to offer.
The other day, my wife and I got into an argument over whether we needed to buy a bike. And although we recognize that this is not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things, somehow it escalated to the point that we were both starting to raise our voices. But then my wife suddenly looked out the window behind me and said, “Oh my gosh.” I couldn’t help but look.
One morning when I was in eleventh grade, I was walking through the school parking lot with Jamie Walker when all of sudden, I saw a big, black Buick Regal come around the corner. It was headed straight for me.
The other night, I thought I heard something break upstairs in the girls’ bathroom, but I decided to keep a low profile until there were further developments. I figured that one of the girls would let me know if I was needed for a cleanup. Then I heard something at the top of the stairs. It sounded two little steps.