“Ladies . . . we open the altar to you. Now is a good time to make a fresh commitment to the Lord. Come forward. Give Him your whole heart.”
All over the sanctuary, women attending the conference stood and made their way to the front. Some remained standing at the altar with heads bowed. Some knelt and wept.
I squeezed my eyes shut and suppressed the groan rising from the depths of my soul. How many wholehearted vows had I made to the Lord and then broken? How many times had my sincere tears of passion for more of Him waned to a dry-eyed dullness over time? I was weary of it. Weary of making promises to the Lord I wouldn’t keep. Couldn’t keep.
I swiped a tissue across my perspiring upper lip as my troubled thoughts shot to Philippians 2:12-13. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling . . . I had experienced plenty of fear and trembling in my Christian walk. The apprehension in my heart and mind over ‘staying right with God’ had not only stolen my peace, but kept it dangling in front of me like a carrot. How in the world was a person to keep their heart fully awakened and actively pursuing the things of God at all times? Was it possible to walk out such a monumental task, when my best intentions didn’t carry enough get-up-and-go to see me through to the next week?
To further my agony, the second part of that passage seemed so contradictory. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Why tell me to work out my own salvation if God was responsible for maintaining my motivation and actions? Was fervency up to me? or Him? These unanswered questions left me confused and miserable. I stayed glued to my seat, my right leg bouncing in rhythm with my uneasiness.
That’s when I saw Him in my mind’s eye—Jesus walking up the aisle. He was headed straight toward my pew, His gaze fixed on me. He was the epitome of someone on a mission. Uneasy, I glanced around the room. No one else seemed to notice Him.
Within moments, He was standing in front of me, extending His right hand for me to take hold of. I hesitated, my heart thumping in my chest.
With eyes intense and a captivating smile that melted the last of my resolve to stay put, He said, “Let’s do this together.”
In that instant, light broke through my darkness. Confusion over whose responsibility it was to maintain my faith, lifted. Philippians 2 made perfect sense. My Christian journey made sense. I felt breathless, smitten. Loved. All my floundering efforts to keep my spiritual life afloat on my own could now be cast aside. He and I were in a life-long partnership. The day I accepted Him as Lord and Savior, we were joined together. United. I was His and He was mine. With my heart expectant, surrendered, obedient to Him, and His heart strong, confident, and jealous for me, we would work out this thing called salvation. We would do it together. Hand in hand.
My fingers trembled as I grasped onto His hand and we headed down the aisle to the altar.