Christy’s Assurances

I can still feel the anticipation that was swelling in my chest as I accelerated down the aisle. “These are the words,” I thought, “the words that will let Jesus into my heart!” I remember Christy, the kind-hearted black woman, vivid with her rosy cheeks and big, scarlet lips that might at any moment turn her whole face into a smile. During the final altar call of Vacation Bible School, after a week of morning altar calls, she pulled me aside wondering why on each day had I gone up to ask Jesus into my heart. I remember being relieved that someone had noticed. In all of my boyish frustration I told her, somewhat apprehensively, that “I must be doing it wrong.”

She asked me if I wanted to be saved. I replied that I did with all my heart. “Then you are saved!” she said, as if that was that. Seeing that I was not convinced she explained, “You just have to want salvation for it to be yours.” “Like playing make-believe?” I asked suspiciously. “Yes,” she said with so much wisdom, “It’s just like make-believe at first.”

I am told that my faith was strong then, and that my boyish prayers were fierce, as if I understood somehow that the veracity of my belief would be determined by the sincerity with which I believed. But as I grew older my imagination became less convincing, and I started to question Christy’s assurances. It didn’t take long for me to begin looking again for whatever that little boy was trying to find at the altar.

I searched on mountaintops and in thunderstorms, at worship rallies, in prayer rooms, on overseas missions; I searched through the Pentecostal experience, my big sister’s monotone Anglican liturgy, and my parents’ new Calvinist conversion. I even checked at the homeless shelter, but I couldn’t find God in my world, or Jesus in my heart.

I struggled so hard to find him truly until all that was left was the sincerity of a child-like longing, and the determination of a belief that my boyish prayers had been answered.


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2 thoughts on “Christy’s Assurances”

  1. So, I'm sitting here at work reading this and, not gonna lie, totally tearing up. It totally reminded me of the story where God tells Elijah that He's going to show him His glory. And God isn't in the earthquake or the fire, but in the still, small voice. That's how you'll see Him and that's how He's going to show up in your life…in that gentle, sweet quiet.

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