Many Years Ago...

​I was cleaning out a spare closet recently when I came across the box for my junior high confirmation Bible. In the box were some notes I received that day, as well as a few memories for years past. As I got to the bottom of the stack of notes, I noticed the maroon Remembrance book my pastor gave me that day. As I started to read it, my heart became burdened. As I read the pre-printed message given out to every confirmed teenager in that denomination, I realized how easy it was that I strayed from my Heavenly Father in some of the hardest years of my life.
​What made me the saddest was the life verse I wrote down, and the note I wrote to myself. I hadn't read either of these two things in over twenty-nine years. 
God had me so close and yet because of bad theology, I missed Jesus—totally missed him for so many years. The community I desperately craved as a teenager quite possibly would have been found had I been in a church that taught about a personal relationship with Jesus—not that my Pastor would stand before God on my behalf (that's not anywhere in the Bible by the way, but it was claimed in this booklet).
This is not about calling out one denomination over another because bad theology is rampant in all denominations. It is about making sure the Truth that is found in the pages of the Bible has really found its way into your heart and into your soul. It is beyond my understanding how we went from Paul's letters to the churches about Jesus being the only way and that we could never keep the law, to the theology practiced by this church of my youth, as well as many churches even still today. Perhaps the current weak reach of the Church, and the lukewarm temperature of many churches and its members, is the result of this misguided theology. 
My parents' promise at my infant baptism and the two years of learning in weekly confirmation classes did not, cannot and will not give me access to Heaven. Only my personal faith in Jesus as my Savior can.
I can attest to the fact there was no outward or inward change of my heart upon confirmation. I stood there in front of the church, as an awkward teenager, reciting answers I had memorized. I felt no radical change and never felt the urge to share about Jesus. I didn't fear God (there were times I feared going to Hell, but I didn't fear God). Maybe I spoke the words “Jesus is my Savior” that day (I don’t remember), but I didn’t understand it or mean it. I never would have said I was anything but Christian back then, but a Christ-follower, I was not. Had someone not shared the true Gospel with me one August night in 2008, I wouldn't be writing this today. 
Faith is so simple, yet so challenging. Faith is the vehicle in which we move toward our Savior, and faith is the vehicle that moves us from our Savior to the lost. The most religiously educated people of Jesus' time (and beyond) missed Jesus because their hearts were hard and their eyes were blinded. You can’t manufacture faith. It has to be pure.
We won't all have radical encounters with Jesus on a road to Damascus, but upon surrender everyone will emerge from darkness to light. The world looks totally different through the eternal lens of light. Love looks different. People look different. Goals and dreams look different.  Everyone emerges at different times, but those who do emerge are the only ones guaranteed to live in His victorious light for all of eternity. I hope that's you. 

Erin Olson

Founder and CEO of Sandalfeet Ministries

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