Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who I Am

I am a saved sinner.

Because of the complexities of my gender, my race, my job, my position in society, my likes and dislikes, my natural gifts or talents, you may ask why I define myself this way.  These things and more usually define the person.

But, I tell you, I am a saved sinner.  Let me explain why.

I was born into this world with a inherited stain upon me that could not be removed in any normal way; a blemish that permeated every atom of my being.  Not a physical deformity or handicap.  No, this stain was unseen by my parent’s eyes as they gazed upon their newborn, seemingly perfect in every way, baby girl.  But it was there, none the less.

As I grew, the stain stayed with me.  In fact, it also grew.  And as the world introduced itself, I became like a dust mop gathering particles of sin and depravity among the threads and fibers of that stain.  At first, the cosmic compost of worldliness was subtle, yet the infection caused by it continued to spread.  When I left home and married, it gained speed until my wretchedness began to manifest itself not only inwardly, but outwardly, as well.

Adult responsibilities were often ignored.  I was drawn into the world’s underbelly of partying and revelry, alcohol and drugs, envy, lust, greed, lies, depression, and a threatened marriage.  For twelve years, the world’s appeal was a strong force, dragging me down in its murky, dark depths, and threatening to consume me forever in its blackness.  And I was unknowingly pulling my precious children, who were my most prized and beloved possession, along with me.

I can't tell you how or when I began to change.  But I can say that during the entire course of the years of not recognizing my sinfulness, I was pursued and wooed by the God I had heard of as a small child, but didn't know.  He kept me from completely destroying myself and my family.  He provided for me, even though I continued to offend Him.  He comforted me when I was in despair and desperation and pleading for help when I knew I had done wrong, but didn't know how or where to get the help.  All I know is that a strange and mysterious thing began to happen to me, and it came suddenly.

Shortly after my thirtieth birthday, He turned my face from the world and I began to search for His face.  The state with which I was in prevented me from immediately seeing Him, but the search for understanding had begun.  A weak but effective foundation of God’s law in a legalistic church had been established in my mind as a child.  Perhaps that’s why I always felt trapped and guilty over the wrong things I had done.  I just had no idea how to alleviate the guilt, because my childhood church didn't have the answer.  They were just as ensnared because they, too, were ignorant of grace and the One with all the answers.

I began to read the Bible, pouring through it again and again.  Yet, the answers still failed to come.  I consulted family members who adhered to their works and legalism, only receiving hard and impossible answers to the meaning of salvation and escape from the Hell preached to me as a child if I didn't embrace their legalistic doctrine.  My eyes feverishly looked everywhere.  My heart became frantic for answers and for redemption from my past that continued to haunt me.  But as each day passed, the crack that had been made in the cold, hard shell that encased my heart and kept me separated from seeing the God I wanted to know and understand began to grow larger and larger as chunks of it fell away.

The LORD began to pour out His Word in ways that defies my own reasoning.  What I was unable to understand before suddenly became clear to me.  He placed other Christians before me, including my precious sister, Dana, who had come out from her own struggle to understand.  We spent endless hours on the phone, the physical distance between us disappearing as we discussed what she was learning, studied, prayed, and exhorted one another.  God was not only opening my mind and heart to His Word, He was drenching me with the dew of understanding Him and introducing me to His Son Jesus Christ.  By His hand alone and using the faithfulness of others, He drew me from the darkness of the world and into His glorious Light.

For nearly ten years I battled the legalism of my former understanding, wanting desperately to retain some of it.  It wasn't sound reasoning that kept me bound to the false teaching of my youth.  It was fear.  Fear that if I failed to keep a portion of the misguided theology and doctrines forced upon me as a child, I would spend an eternity in Hell.  Yet, during the course of my conversion, my sister faithfully passed onto me what God was also pouring into her: the Truth of His Word, the miracle of the Cross, and the One Who was nailed to it.

For want of space and a willing ear, my story is abbreviated.  There is a vast distance between my physical birth and the day I was reborn; almost half a lifetime.  During my long struggle for understanding, God was also working in the hearts of other family members - my father, my mother, my husband, my children, as well as other members of my extended family.  Each one of us was drawn out of the world as we lived it, out from the false religion that had kept us bound, deaf, and blind, and were introduced to His Son Jesus Christ, and brought into His glorious light of salvation.  And for this, I will be eternally grateful.

I am a saved sinner.  The stain with which I was born is gone now, unseen by my Creator’s eyes.  It has been washed from me by the blood of my Savior’s sacrifice.

From time to time, I often remember how far the LORD has brought me.  I am reminded of the mistakes I made on my journey and sometimes grieve over them.  But they are merely passing remembrances because I know that Someone Else selflessly made restitution for them on my behalf.  In fact, He paid the penalty for them with His life.  I owe Him all of my devotion, praise, and worship for choosing me as His own child.

I can now look forward to the day when I will actually see the One Who faithfully walked beside me through it all, even in my most sinful state.  I owe all that I am to Him.

I am a saved sinner and a Christian who loves her LORD because He first loved me.

Like you may be as you read this, I was once a unsaved sinner  with no understanding, groping in darkness and lost in death.  But Grace reached out from eternity past and brought me into His glorious Light, saving me and giving me new and eternal life.

Who am I?  I am a child of God - and Jesus Christ is my SAVIOR my LORD, my KING, and my MASTER.

To Him be all the glory now and forevermore!

1 comment:

Mom said...

Karen: I want to write something profound like you do.God gave you so many talents that I wonder how you decide which one you will use on any given day. Thank You Jesus for coming into our lives.