One Sunday when our church body was preparing to receive communion, our pastor did something different. He asked for anyone who had been saved for 50 years or longer to come up first and receive. Then, he called for those who had been saved for 40 years or longer, and then those who had been saved for 30 years or longer, and so on. When he called for the 30 years or more group I felt God nudge me. I was startled when I realized that my first encounter with God’s saving grace happened when I was about 8 years old, and that was now 32 years ago. I told God I probably shouldn’t go yet because between the age of 8 and 26 I had 2 or 3 other encounters with re-commitment, and it made me feel dishonest to claim to be so “old” in the faith, but He nudged again. Then my husband also nudged me, and said, “You should go on up.” So, I did.
The next time our church had communion our pastor asked anyone who had been saved for 30 years or more to stand. Again, I felt that nudge from my Father. Again, I felt like a fraud. Until I looked down at my feet. I hadn’t paid attention earlier that morning when my daughter picked a Bible to take to church, but when she left for Sunday school, she left her Bible sitting at my feet. I leaned down and picked it up, and lo and behold it was the Bible my Grandparents had presented me on the day I first got baptized! It said, “A day to remember”. Yes, all of the sudden it was a day to remember. I boldly stood up. Then our pastor said, “What one word would all of you who have been saved for over 30 years use to describe your salvation and walk with God.” My reply, “Process”
Over the years I have heard many believers “judging” whether someone was saved or not by what evidence they saw in their lives. I admit that I’ve done the same thing at times. But after my experiences during those two communions, I humbly apologize.
When I sat down to process the communion stories with God, He said, “Lisa, you have been mine since the very first time you said “Yes” to letting Jesus into your heart. I knew your process, and I patiently waited and watched over you for all the years it took for you to work through it. Even still, I wait and watch as you mature and grow. That will never end. Don’t forget that man sees the outer appearance, but I see the heart. Only I knew the wounds that even your little 8 year old heart had. Only I know your future.”
God is all about process. I love that.
I was reading a story about the Potter this morning and it stirred up all of the above thoughts, and then I saw this….
The first home Chris and I bought needed a lot of updating when we moved in. We didn’t realize in advance that they had painted right on top of wallpaper in most of the rooms, and in the kitchen we discovered (the hard way) that they had layered 5 wallpapers! What a nightmare it was to slowly peel off layer after layer and at times we wondered if we would ever get to the bare wall.
I saw that kitchen in my mind and God said, “If someone came in on the middle of that process, they would never know how much work you had done, or how much work was left to do. The only one who really appreciated each step in the process was the one who was a part of all the work of peeling each layer.”
No truer word has ever been spoken. The reason we are not equipped to judge a person’s salvation is because none of us has been there from the beginning of their life and all the way through. And most assuredly, none of us knows their end.
Let that soak in for a moment.
None of this is a condemnation. Actually, I am hoping this word will free you in your process. I pray this revelation will give you hope for your life and walk with God and the freedom to just “be” where you are without worrying about what anyone else says or thinks about you.
You are free, my friend. You are free to be exactly where you are in your individual process, but you also have to extend that grace to those around you. Let others “be” as well. Give them freedom to grow at their own pace and let Holy Spirit convict and mold them.
God, please forgive me for any time I have judged someone’s heart. Please forgive me for feeling inferior because of my path. Lord, I surrender to Your process in my life. You have freedom in me. If You ever feel me resisting You, please nudge me and remind me to let go. I love You and long for the day that You and I will live in eternity together. Thank You for the cross. In Jesus name, Amen.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. I Samuel 16:7
Yet You, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, You are the Potter; we are all the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:8