Conversion - Realization I can't save myself

Can one be converted again and again? I suppose so. This past week I had a conversion experience of sorts. I was driving to work and reflecting upon a reoccurring theme in my life that I found quite frustrating. I asked God to reveal to me what He had for me to learn from these reoccurring experiences, because it seemed obvious to me that there was a lesson to be learned.

A year ago there was a day when on several occasions I went out of my way to help people just for the sake of helping people. Throughout that day each kind deed I did was returned with ungratefulness and anger. It was quite confusing. For example, when I waited in line to go through a toll booth, I realized that the person in the vehicle at the front of the line did not have money to pay the toll. As this was a toll booth with a swinging guard arm, the first vehicle and all vehicles in line behind it could not pass through until the first vehicle paid its toll. I decided to get out of my car, walk to the front of the line, and pay the toll. On my way back to my car, after paying the toll, I accidentally bumped my body into the back of the body of the first vehicle. The woman in the car got out and started yelling at me. Yes, she yelled at me - the kind stranger who just paid her toll! This was the first of many such experiences that day. In fact, that evening I sat on the floor in my kitchen with my cell phone to my ear, listening to an angry woman yell at me for doing something that I had not done.

Early this week I once again passed through a toll booth, this time one without the swinging guard arm. I put $1.25 of quarters in the toll and waited for the light to turn from red to green, it did not. I decided to pay my toll a second time. I put $1.25 of quarters in the toll and again waited for the light to turn. It did not. So I decided to drive forward as if it accepted my toll. As I drove off a loud alarm went off signifying to the attendant nearby that I didn't pay the toll.

I was very frustrated by the experience and asked, "Why is it that I can do the right thing and be accused of doing something wrong?" Memories from my full day experience the year prior flooded my mind.

As I reflected upon these moments on my way to work and asked God to reveal to me the meaning of it, I was reminded of relationships that I attempted to reconcile, but just couldn't reconcile. Then I heard God speak to my heart. It seemed that God was pointing out to me that in all of these situations I wanted to save the day, I wanted to make things right. But, the message for me was that I care so much about doing the right thing that I forget that I can't be my own or other's savior. I need a savior too. A savior to save me from the situations where no matter how hard I try I can't fix or make right. I need saved from unsavable situations!

This was quite a moment of insight and turning towards the cross for me. Jesus died on the cross and saved the unreconcilable situations for us all!


So I had this moment of conversion driving down the road. I really do need Jesus as my savior! Not just savior because of my sins, but savior from those situations that I just can't make right! I need released, I need saved from the urgency and need to reconcile when reconciliation isn't possible. But I also need saved from the belief that I am able to reconcile that which is broken on my own. In any situation where reconciliation is needed, it is an act of God's grace that creates the space and the movement for repentance and change. It is God who reconciles, not me!

I also realized that I need saved from the fear of being punished for something for which I am innocent. Jesus died on the cross. Christians around the world are persecuted and face death and false imprisonment. What I need is not escape from false accusations and punishment, but rather the refreshing, life-giving mercy of God that transcends all ill-willed and mistaken or negligent transactions of humankind. I can receive mercy from God even when I can't receive mercy from the world and it is God's mercy that counts.

My conversion was also a conversion of recognition. Recognition of the reality and over-arching influence of original sin. When driving, people often feel anonymous. If you just watch the driving habits of people you begin to realize how powerful and selfish is the force of original sin is in our lives. I need saved from this and from the people on the street. We all need saved from seeing vehicles as just motorized transportation devices to seeing vehicles as a impersonal modes of transportation that are directed by real living in-the-flesh human. We need saved from being confused over what is inanimate and what is animate. We need saved from our worldly thinking.

So, my conversion experience on the highway to work, led me to write the following as my Facebook status update:
I've been struck during this Lenten season by my sins & the fact that I just can't save myself. There are times when we sin where it's impossible for us to make it right. I'm now realizing that these times remind us of God's grace through Jesus Christ.
It is a conversion experience that I do not want to forget and it is also one I don't yet have the words to fully explain.

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