Growing up in a revivalist Southern Baptist tradition skewed my personal understanding of salvation and conversion. Countless revival preachers came giving stories of the fellow who repelled every previous attempt to "share the Gospel" but finally and wondrously came to trust Jesus as "he and the pastor" went calling. I believe these stories to be true. Yet, they were not true for me.
I was boring. Too fearful of the consequences of my actions I generally towed the line. Friends in high school hoped I would loosen up a bit and "be a normal person." The thought of coming home in a stupor from some illicit drug or alcohol terrified me as I thought what my parents would both do and think.
Reflecting on my own experience of grace I always thought I could be more effective if with great fanfare I could describe a "Gutter to the Gates of Splendor" salvation experience. My "testimony" was never as "good" as those I heard. What have I got to share in comparison? No story to write a book about. No "Cross and the Switchblade" here.
This morning Lyndl and I discussed our understanding of God and how from time to time we think we have everything so neatly packaged we could answer any question posed. I shared with Lyndl of a talk Dallas Willard recently gave wherein he talked about salvation and conversion.
Years later I think I have overcome the feelings of inadequacy because I cannot describe a "tragedy to triumph" experience. I believe I understand things a bit diferently than before and do not need a "once backslidden choir boy" story to illustrate the grace of God. Hannah’s story is much like my own.
Hannah came to my office this year. She had been talking with her parents about trusting Jesus. All she knew was she had seen her parents live out a life of faith and trust in Jesus and she wanted to express that same trust and be baptized. I told Lyndl today given the un-grace in our world it was indeed a striking experience of grace for Hannah to be born and raised to parents who would not only talk about but live out a confident trust in Jesus. Her experience of grace is no less supernatural. It is no less powerful. It is no less significant. We will help her understand the grace of God in this way so maybe she and others will avoid a skewed understanding of the grace work of God in her life.