Christy’s Assurances

I remember the anticipation 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 rosy cheeks and big, purple lips that turned 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 was relieved that someone had noticed. In all of my boyish frustration I told her, somewhat apprehensively, that “I must be saying 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 I was not convinced, she explained, “You just have to want salvation for it to be yours.” “Like make-believe?” I asked, suspiciously. “Yes,” she said with so much wisdom, “It’s just like make-believe at first.”

 

I am told my faith was strong then, and that my boyish prayers were fierce, as if I understood like Luther 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. Eventually I began looking again for whatever that little boy was trying to find at the altar.

 

I searched through the Pentecostal experience and wore Reformed theology like clothing. I went into the woods with my tent and my dog and I yelled back at thunderstorms. I read every book evangelicals read, and then I read the ones we didn’t read. I lived and worked with missionaries across the planet and checked at the local 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 from which my boyish prayers might be 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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