Monday, January 7, 2013
Our Second Saving
Let me begin this week with a bold and provocative statement. I believe that people are often saved twice. I am using the word, "saved" here as an age long metaphor for the process of beginning a life long relationship with Jesus Christ (By the way, soteriology, or the concept of "salvation" in our faith has recently, and I think correctly, come under some fire from theological thinkers for utilizing a military or war time image - "salvation" - for the new relationship that people have with Christ. This is why I also tend to stay away from the term "saved, or salvation" in church, and prefer the concept of "becoming a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ.)
The first time a person is "saved" is when they first find out about Christ, and they dedicate their lives to Jesus Christ, to be life long fully devoted followers of Him. This first saving often happens at a church camp, or a youth retreat, or a moving worship service. I spoke with one man who told me he was saved at a Billy Graham crusade many, many years ago in Boise, Idaho. These are often powerful and moving experiences. People often describe these experiences as a combination of a mountain top high, and a deeply emotional movement. People often change the course of their lives irrevocably after such experiences - giving up addictions (like smoking, drinking, drugs), recommitting themselves to relationships (wives, husbands, children), re-orienting their hearts and their life behaviors and lifestyles.
People have often asked me when I had my first "saving" experience. The truth is I cannot really remember. Having grown up in the church all my life, I remember many, many, many mountain top "like" experiences where I felt very close to God. However, when people ask me about my second saving experience, I am exactly and precisely certain of the very milli-second that that happened in my life.
I was a senior in college at Macalester College in St. Paul Minnesota. I had been struggling with issues of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for about a year. I was listless and out of energy and totally unable to focus, or concentrate or think in any meaningful way. I was in a really bad place Spiritually, emotionally, physically. So, I dropped out of college, and moved in with a dear couple who lived in Austin, Minnesota (Austin - home of the Hormel meat packing plant:-)). I continued to spiral down hill further and further. Then, one night at 3:00AM I got down on my knees at the foot of an old Norwegian bed and put my nose into a comforter there, and had a deep prayer - "Dear God, I need you to be involved in my life right now, or I am not going to be able to go on much longer with this life." At that very second, I believe a deep light of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit entered my heart, and I experienced my "Second Saving."
What is a second saving? Well, the truth is that it is a made up term, made up by me. And I would not want to put it past any respected theology professor or thinker. But I believe that it is often in the real depths of people's lives that they come to Christ the closest. It is the in the real plummets of our souls that we most deeply connect with God. So, a second saving is that moment when we are at our wits end, our souls dead end, and have no where else to turn but to God, and we ask God into our hearts (in my case it was a demand of God - I was really mad at Him...), and we feel God enter, almost imperceptibly into the midst of our pain and lostness.
Have you discovered who God is, and had a mountain-top high experience (a first saving?). Are you in the midst of a crisis where God might enter your life in a new and deep way (a second saving?). I have experienced both, and know that I wouldn't be who I am today without both experiences, and without God's guidance through both of them.
All For Now,