If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

What Will We Say?

This appears in my second book, Lessons Along the Journey. I adapted it for this blog because the message is so timely in our current culture.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes . . .  (Romans 1:16)

        When I was four, my family lived near the Atlantic Ocean. "Close enough to enjoy the water," my mother used to say, "but far enough that we don't have sand in the house."
One afternoon my father brought me to the beach to escape the blistering summer heat of our apartment. I still remember splashing in the water, squealing as the gentle waves surged and ebbed around me.

I suppose he was only a short distance away when he turned his back for a moment. But during that moment, a wave knocked me off balance and plunged my face beneath the water. Frantic, I fought to regain my footing as each successive swell threw me under again and again. Panic grew into terror as the current swept me deeper beneath the waves.

Then, from nowhere, strong arms suddenly pulled me free. Within moments, I found myself safely on the warm sand. The lifeguard had come to my rescue.

"Hey! What are you doing?" My father ran toward us, shouting angrily at the man who saved me. "I was watching him. He was okay." Then he looked at me. "You were okay, weren't you?"

I remember it was more a command than a question. Embarrassed and confused, what could I say? I stared at my feet and whispered, "Uh‑huh."

Vindicated, my father led me back to our beach blanket. I didn't feel like going into the water any more that day.

Years passed, and I discovered different waters in which to revel. Swept along by swells of ideas and temptations, I drifted from one immoral or rebellious pleasure to another. Life ebbed and flowed gently around me.

Then a wave knocked me off balance.

I fought to regain my footing, but each attempt met powerful and successive waves that pulled me deeper toward sin, desperation, and finally, despondency. I knew intuitively that my future promised little more than ever-increasing bondage to those very things I once thought gave me freedom. I knew I could no more stop doing what I knew to be wrong than I could prevent the ocean's currents. But oh, how I longed for forgiveness, cleansing – and rescue. In despair, I cried out to the One I had for so long ignored, and begged Him to deliver me from myself.

I still remember His rescue. The Holy Spirit led me to friends who told me of God’s promise of salvation and the power to change direction. All I needed to do was ask God for mercy.

Suddenly, from nowhere, strong arms pulled me free from sin's grip. Overwhelming guilt and fear gave way to assurance and peace. I’d been rescued. Lifted onto the Rock. Oh, how glorious was the sense of freedom, to be redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

But within days, friends and family rushed to my side. "You were okay, weren't you? You weren't really in trouble . . . .”

What could I say? What would I say?

It’s not surprising when pressure from friends or parents prevent a child from choosing right over wrong. But how should an adult react in the face of truth? Despite my self-assured fa├žade, I desperately needed help, and the Lord Jesus so graciously reached down to rescue me.

What could I say? The choice could not have been clearer. It was time to put away childish things. It was time to shoulder my responsibility and admit that the gospel is the power of God to rescue from sin’s bondage everyone who turns to Christ.
Could I – could anyone –say less?


Melanie Jean Juneau said...

powerful- this story reminds me of a parable told by Watchman Nee (1903-1972..I think)Just like a lifeguard who waits till a panicky drowning person is too tried to fight him, God allows us to struggle and exhaust ourselves till we surrender to His saving power.

Actually this memory does not have much to do with your main premise or story.. Yours is much better

Richard Maffeo said...

Actually the theme of each is similar . . . God rescuing us from what will eventually become eternal death. Oh, how I long for the salvation of people -- especially of those I love -- caught in Satan's web. So many completely unaware of the spider slowly making its way across the silky strands toward them.

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Richard, this story is so perfect for Divine Mercy Sunday.

I realized this week how much I take the mercy of Jesus for granted. Our Baptist neighbor mentioned that she's heard many people say that they have too many sins for God to forgive them and so they believe they are doomed. (This is a good reason for Catholics to wear crucifixes in plain sight.) No matter how far away from God I ran, it never occurred to me to doubt that He would forgive me when I was ready. That is one of the great gifts of my Catholic upbringing.

Richard Maffeo said...

And sometimes we just don't believe His grace is greater than our sin. I like St. Paul's comment in 1 Timothy 1:15-16 because it speaks directly to those doubts.

Colleen said...

Great story about mercy and being saved. And also, when we turn to our Lord, and have a major conversion, how our family does not recognize our need or desire to turn to the Lord.

Richard Maffeo said...

Colleen, probably because they have not recognized their OWN desperate need.