Sleepless nights, part I

BLOGGER NOTE:I promised my brother-in-law a new post…so here ya’ go. … There are so many things I want to write about, that it actually freezes me up every time I sit down to write. So for those two loyal readers who wish I would write more, I really will try. … Shout out to Pee-wee 😉

I never needed to watch scary movies when I was little. I had the Rapture to keep me up at night. While my friends were watching Freddy slash his way up and down Elm Street, I was creeped out by the still-buzzing electric razor rattling around the porcelain sink during “A Thief in the Night.” No offense to Lahaye and Jenkins (at least not right now) but “Left Behind” has nothing on the “Thief” film. I cannot tell you how many of my church friends cited that movie as the thing that got them “saved.”

I remember listening to youth speakers at AWANA camp talking about the evils of Satanism in rock and roll, and what you would hear if you played a record backward. I heard more than my fair share on the 70 weeks in Daniel and the Beast of Revelation.

All that led to my constant sprinting up the stairs into my parents’ bedroom to make sure my mom had not been snatched away. When my sisters were really young, I would stand in their bedroom and watch them sleep. For a long time the youngest was under that mysterious “age of accountability” (sola scriptura, my eye), so I was pretty sure that they would be taken away.

Yes, my readers, I doubted my “salvation”. I prayed the “sinner’s prayer” so much, it was like a Rosary. I would lie in bed at night, mumbling it over and over and over. Finally, at about the age of 12, I just had to stop. I was driving myself completely nuts, and there was enough going on around me to do that, without me having to do it for myself. I used to feel guilty for all that worried praying—if only I could trust Him, if only I could know for sure if I really meant it, and if only I could know for sure if He really accepted my prayer.

Silly, isn’t it. It’s what happens when “salvation” becomes fire insurance, instead of the restoration of Communion between the Creator and His created, if that makes sense. I was never too excited about Heaven, but I really didn’t want to go to Hell, and even worse, be left behind like that electric razor, rattling around without anyone to steady it.

But here’s the thing, I don’t think it’s about going to heaven or not going to hell. Heaven is heaven only because we exist there with the One whom we were created to know. The better we know Him here, the more we will want to be with Him there, and the more we understand His great mercy and love for mankind. That means we also learn to trust Him more.

Orthodoxy is tailor-made for people like me. My morning prayers, my evening prayers, the Divine Liturgy, the Jesus Prayer…these things are a constant hurling of oneself on the mercy of God. We say things like “Lord, have mercy” and “have mercy upon us and save us.”

Do I say these things because I fear His wrath? Nope, I say these things because I trust His love. I know that He saved me through His death and resurrection, I know that I am being saved as I follow Him, trust Him and worship Him, and I believe I will be saved when I stand before Him. They are no longer prayers from a heart of fear, but from a heart (I hope) of trust, one that is a part of His bride, His inheritance, His beloved.

That’s not so scary, is it?

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Author: Rebecca

Orthodox Christian. Writer. SAR K9 handler-in training. All three of those are deeply related.

10 thoughts on “Sleepless nights, part I”

  1. Liked your post, Bec. In addition to the rapture, what really scared me when I was a kid was the idea of selling my soul to Satan. I was afraid that out of some kind of compulsive and uncontrollable urge I would enter into some kind of pact with the devil. It just seemed too easy, all you had to do was say the word and it was a done deal. I remember when I was about six or seven years old I was thinking about it and scaring myself half to death and all of a sudden I said, “You can have it for FREE!” Then I burst out crying and ran to my parents’ room screaming out “I didn’t mean it – I didn’t mean it!” Thankfully, my parents comforted me and prayed with me and assured me that it didn’t work like that, that God knew what was in my heart and that I loved Him. Whew!

  2. Thanks for keeping your promise Boc (I’m clearing my throat as I write that!). Thank you for putting up with some of my naive comments and questions. I truly do wish to understand the history, practice of and nature of Orthodoxy. I will stand strong though on my deeper concern and, “hidden agenda”, if you will, of bringing us side by side. We serve the same Lord and savior and will both have to answer to him some day. My hope is that I can learn from the rich and unbroken traditions of orthodoxy and that you may continue to amuse my strides to live out evangelicalism. We must come together under the banner of Christ, so as not to allow the devil yet another separation between Christ and his beloved bride. You know as well as I do, that there is far to much anomosity within the walls of the church today.

    The scripture that comes to mind after reading your recent entry is Philippians 2:12, “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed – not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence – continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” There seems to be a legitimate place for fear when it comes to our salvation. I would be lying if I said that I have not doubted my salvation over the years of being a believer. Most of that is driven by a particularly disturbing scripture in Matthew 7:21-23, particularly the word many in verse 22. I feel that only recently have I truly moved on full assurance of my faith and into the step of application of the word into my life. (This progressive model comes out of a deeper study on Mark 4 and the different types of soil). I will also say that my heart has rested more peacefully in exploring roots of calvanism and its various scriptural supports, knowing that my standing before God rests solely in his hands. I found it interesting that you sleep better now, having landed on the side of man’s choice and potential loss of salvation.

    I will agree with you sis that to many Christians today have a fire insurance approach to their faith. And even further, that too many Christians are future focused on the promise of heaven, that they forget our call to worship God in the here and now. After having read “Practicing the Presence of God” by brother Lawrence, I had a deeper longing to focus on the presence of God right now in my life, rather than the future promise of my eternal dwelling with him.

    Here’s to a future of more round table dicussions on theology and practice of faith. My prayer is that we all come out the better for it and feeling as though we have been drawn closer to our Lord and Savior.

  3. Doug,

    “You can have it for free!” That’s funny! How ironic that, when we sin, we’re pretty much saying the same thing….

    Bec,

    “Orthodoxy is tailor-made for people like me.”

    Actually, the truth is that you were tailor made for Orthooxy–a subtle, but important difference. Orthodoxy is what all people are looking for if only they could see….

  4. I’ll be dealing with Calvinism later… ;), but thanks for the response, albeit a lengthy one.

    The verse you quoted re: working out your salvation with fear and trembling, I would think refers more to an understanding of the greatness of God, similar to Lucy’s statement about Aslan not being a tame lion, rather then a desire to covert out of a fear of His wrath. Like a father, ultimately obedience is better when it rises from a heart of love and respect rather than fear of having your head bashed in. And I think too often Christianity has emphasized the “head-bashing”, if that makes any sense.

    And if you look at the rest of that verse, that it’s God who works in you, that seems to underscore that point. It’s not saying “work out your salvation with fear because it’s God who will throw into outer darkness.” We should tread respectfully on the grounds of this relationship with the Almighty Triune God.

    So, I sleep better because I trust a loving God more than an angry one. God is not a whimsical or a vindictive God, but one who “calls all to salvation through the promise of the good things to come.”

  5. Karl–
    love your blog and thanks for the comment! I agree…and the more I write the more I just want to scream that…we were made for Orthodoxy, because Orthodoxy is right worship. Everything else is like wearing your shoes on the wrong foot.

  6. Bec,

    You are so eloquent. Thanks for sharing your story. I am so enjoying reading it as it parallel’s mine and you you are such a better writer than I. I think, for me, besides the rapture what freaked me out the most was those spooky chic comics. Those totally gave me nightmares.

    When we first became Orthodox a friend of ours was very worried about us and kept asking us if we were ‘saved’ and my husband kept answering ‘Christ is merciful.’ I thought that was a good answer because then we were leaving it up to God versus ourselves (and we still get accused of being works oriented).

    I have another story about “Lord have Mercy” but this is already long enough. Thanks once again. I am so looking forward to the next post.

    Matushka

  7. tmatt here:

    The other issue here, of course, is that many of us were raised in worship styles in which the performers were the preachers and paid musicians. Now, there are Orthodox churches in which the people just sit (yes sit) there in pews and watch. But this is NOT the norm and it is certainly not the Tradition.

    So you converts out there, keep pushing for CORPORATE worship. The goal is for everyone to sing and pray and all that other Orthodox stuff. As one charismatic Episcopalian said after visiting Holy Cross in Maryland (www.holycrossonline.org): If you don’t have carpet burns on your forehead, you didn’t go to church.”

    Not QUITE that wild, but that’s the idea.

    http://www.tmatt.net
    http://www.getreligion.org

    And people may want to visit the amazine http://www.frederica.com

  8. Great blog honey. So sorry that you had sleepless nights but glad that you are now sleeping soundly. Salvation is not about us but all about Him and His grace. Wonderful that you have that security. I love your blog. I’ll keep reading. Glad I found you.

  9. Just discovered your blog – wonderfull!!! – hope you keep it up – read some of your old postings and a thought flitted through my mind on the topic of obedience. It has always puzzled me when Christians talk about free will and then talk about the importance of obedience to God. If we are creatures of free will then our loving Creator would be more thrilled and happy when seeing our choices for life than He/She/It would when seeing slavish copying of what we think is “obedience”. In other words, like a good parent, I think God prefers to see us display competence rather than compliance for mere compliances sake. Does Orthodoxy have anything to say about that? I don’t know much about Orthodoxy, but was always attracked to the Catholic Church – just couldn’t quite deal with the Pope thing and the celibate priesthood thing and keeping women out of the clergy. Is orthodoxy different? Thanks.

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