I’m an incurable writer, so for the past two years, I’ve been working on a memoir titled Breadcrumbs, a Baby Boomer’s Path to Jesus because in revisiting my past, I’ve found evidence that God was at work in me even before I was conscious of it.
I was born illegitimately in the 1950’s, at the time, the epitome of shame. I was given up at birth and lived in a foster home for nine months until I was adopted by parents who went to church every Sunday. It was an ordinary church that sang old hymns, like: What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Be Thou My Vision, and Jesus Loves Me. I never understood the cross, but worship team, I remember those songs.
The summer I was sixteen, Woodstock happened, the legendary rock and roll concert that ushered in the hippie generation. I believed their mantra Do your own thing, and racked up more shame.
Flash forward to 1982 to an incident where God revealed himself. Looking back, I was on Pastor Steve’s sin cycle. With low-self-esteem I painted myself as victim, so I could give myself permission to do what I knew was wrong. I almost destroyed my most important relationships and was terrified by my capacity for harm, so when a Christian neighbor told me, “The wages of sin is death,” I knew she was correct. When she said, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord,” was all in.
Finally, I thought, I get the cross. It’s like a math problem. My sin plus Jesus equals zero. My past sins are forgiven, and henceforth I’m on my own to keep my slate clean.
While writing, I was involved with Fit classes at GU.
In The Cure I learned that I really didn’t understand the cross at all. My sins, past, present, and future plus Jesus does not equal zero. It equals a brand new identity. The apostle Paul calls believers saints not sinners because when God sees us through the lens of the cross, we are already our sanctified selves. Colossians calls us holy, chosen, beloved. What freedom not to be the fatherless babe who personified shame or the do-your-own- thing hippie who was looking for significance, and self-worth in all the wrong places. I am the pure Bride of Christ.
In Who Gives a Rip about Sin, I learned it’s healthy to need a sense of significance, self-worth and purpose, but these needs are only satisfied completely in a relationship with our heavenly father. Adam and Eve were created for paradise, totally dependent on God. They had no ability, on their own, to absorb or deflect sin. The same is true for us. But because they succumbed to Satan’s lies, they were forever separated from a holy god and so are we. Therefore, the only remedy for temptation is not trying harder not to sin, which focuses on sin, but trusting in the love of God which already provides what we’re tempted to seek in destructive ways.
While studying Living in the Presence of God, I became a first-time grandmother. God used my love for dear Jack to mirror His unconditional love for me. No amount of bad behavior could ever make me leave Jack. As his grandmother, he is mine by blood. Romans says nothing can separate us from the love that’s in Christ Jesus. What joy to finally feel lovable. To feel the tremendous commitment of a doting God who wants to care for us, provide for us, enjoy us. He’s like a ferocious grandfather on steroids. This is who adopted me! The living God! And he alone can protect us from sin.
While preparing this, the words to one of my childhood hymns kept playing in my head. When I checked to see if I remembered it correctly, I was amazed that it summed up what I’m trying to say: That Truth Trusted Transforms.
So I think God wants me to share these lyrics:
1. A mighty fortress is our God,
a bulwark never failing;
our helper he amid the flood
of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
doth seek to work us woe;
his craft and power are great,
and armed with cruel hate,
on earth is not his equal.
2. Did we in our own strength confide,
our striving would be losing,
were not the right man on our side,
the man of God's own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabaoth, his name,
from age to age the same,
and he must win the battle.
3. And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
4. That word above all earthly powers,
no thanks to them, abideth;
the Spirit and the gifts are ours,
thru him who with us sideth.
Let goods and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill;
God's truth abideth still;
his kingdom is forever.