Back in the day, the preachers I had to listen to, for the most part, preached Hell (pronounced Hay-yell-huh) and Damnation and preached that if you were not saved you would go to Hell and in order to be saved from this awful place you must first repent and then not sin again, ever.
This was a tall order for me for I was a rambunctious and rebellious child. I was baptized but wrongly believed this would make me perfect, and when it did not and I fell into sin, I just knew I was going to Hell. Another fire breathing preacher came along and said “let me baptize him and I’ll hold him down long enough to put some fear in him.” This, too, failed to make me perfect for any longer than it took to catch my breath after I surfaced.
After 5 or 6 baptisms I was still not perfect and had had enough of condemnation from myself and others and again wrongly figured I was just too sorry to be saved and quit going to church all together. I fell in with a crowd of like minded rebels; Rowan, Jimmy, Shelton, Jerry, Harvey, and we set about sinning to a fair the well. We carried sinning to a higher level, figuring if we were going to Hell we might as well get our moneys worth. We didn’t rob any banks or kill anyone but according to the preachers of the day we might as well have. Then I met an honest woman.
There is something about an honest woman that will make most men change their lifestyle and straighten up but I gave this one a run for her money. She wanted to marry but I did not for I was having too good a time so she resorted to the deviousness that is in every woman and laid a trap for me. She told me that since I wouldn’t marry her she was moving back to Texas.
I thought she was bluffing so I bluffed back and told her to go ahead and move and was sitting in the car with her as we waited for the fictitious moving van to arrive. When it pulled up, however, I knew the game was over and that she wasn’t playing. She called my bluff and I folded. I told the movers to go back where they came from and gave in to this honest Methodist girl. I lost but I won - I think. I’m a man, what do I know?
It is now 26 years of butting heads with another person just as bullheaded as I am and, Lord have mercy, what a ride it has been. I have to admit that if I could choose again I’d still pick her even though I’d like to wring her neck once in a while.
By the way, it was finally revealed to me by the Spirit that no one can live without sinning in thought, word or deed, not even for a day; no one. It is God’s mercy through the Blood of Christ that delivers us from condemnation. Christ himself said “I did not come into the world to condemn the world but that the world through me might be saved.” It is this magnificent Love of God that frees us from condemnation even when we sin, and gives us forgiveness and Peace. This is what makes those who love and fear Him want to get closer to Him.
Thank you, Lord. For a redeemed sinner like me, this Revelation took a load off my mind.