By Lisa Huddleston
“Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble” (2 Peter 1:10).
When I was a kid, my sisters and I had a weird ritual when we traveled to visit my grandparents who lived in another state. We would try to be very nonchalant when we noticed that we were approaching the Ohio state line so as not to alert the others, and then just as we crossed the border, we would do everything in our power to be the first one across the line. Now I can’t believe that my parents put up with such crazy behavior, but back then it was every girl for herself. We would dive over the front seat, reaching and stretching to be first. We didn’t care that my dad was driving, and we didn’t worry about causing an accident. We were focused on one thing and one thing only—getting across that line. It was totally crazy! (And it was a whole lot of fun.)
Oddly enough, this memory came crashing back on me as I sat in my Theology II class the other night. We were discussing salvation and attempting to put in order the work that takes place when a human being gets “saved.” It was an orderly, systematic approach. Begun by the election of God and ending with a believer’s glorification in heaven. Steps 1 through 10. Just so. But as this memory hit me, I realized that my progression has been less perfectly ordered and more like that chaotic leap my sisters and I used to take. It is less clear to me exactly when I crossed the line. However, I am certain that I am on the other side.
There are times when this lack of definition has really bothered me. When someone would share the exact moment of their salvation down to the date, the location, and the time, it used to make me worry. I even heard some believers go so far as to say if you couldn’t remember those facts then you weren’t saved. It troubled me for many years and often caused me to doubt. But I remembered the feel of God’s drawing me to him. I recalled many times of getting to know him more (both little and big epiphanies!) and times of struggling to submit to what I learned. I could recount many of the steps my teacher enumerated, but not in perfect order with perfectly recorded accuracy. But just as I knew when we’d arrived in Ohio, I know that I have crossed that line.
And that’s the important thing. I would be happy to have my spiritual birthday circled on my calendar. I would like to be able to say with absolute certainty when I was baptized and exactly how old I was—17 or 18—but no one ever wrote it down. And the date isn’t what really matters. It’s what happened in me that counts. And I know that I am his.
I know that I have a present-day trust in Jesus Christ as my savior. I believe that he alone is the author and finisher of my faith and that when I die I will be with him in heaven. He has promised that he is preparing a place for me, and I know that is where I will be when the ache in my heart is finally eased.
Also, I can see the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in my life. I can testify that he is completing the good work he has begun in me. Every good and selfless thing in my life is from him alone. Whenever I receive encouraging words from my brothers and sisters, I know that it is he they are praising, and I am assured.
Finally, I can look back at my journey and see that I have been caught in an ever-increasing pattern of growing more like Jesus. Don’t get me wrong—I am far from being perfect. However, I am being perfected, and thanks to my God, I can see that I am maturing in my faith. Yes, I have a long way yet to go, but progress is being made. Of this I am sure.
Therefore, it is with wild, crazy joy that I can know that I have catapulted across the line. With total abandon at times and with carefully chosen steps at others, but I now know where I stand. And, hallelujah, it is with him!