THEM: Do you ever doubt your salvation?
ME: Only on Sunday afternoons.
I believe once a person is saved they are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise until the day of redemption. That once we are in Christ’s hands, we are in the Father’s hands, and nothing can pluck us out of that safe place.
I believe this and I believe I am one of the saved ones who can claim these promises. I believe this with all my heart. What the Bible says happens to believers; I’ve seen happen in me. I see a new life that would not be there otherwise. I have confidence that I will be made like Him when I see Him as He is.
Then there’s Sunday afternoon.
“Oh dear Lord, why does nothing happen? Why is everyone asleep? Why does it appear as though the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with anything I’m doing in this church? Why does no one hear anything except my illustrations? The questions people come up with; I didn’t even remotely touch on anything their questions had to do with. What sermon are these people hearing? And then there was that illustration I used and I probably said too much and I know what’s-her-name is going to write me an email about my word choice there. And beforehand, I totally botched that handshake greeting thing with the guy who gets ticked off about everything. Where were all the people today? That’s three weeks in a row the Jones family has been gone. I suppose they’ve left the church. Again.”
Even worse is that now, thanks to social media, I can totally find out what the people were doing during church. They were with their families. They were on a trip with their drinking buddies. They were sleeping. They were doing a Bible study and gaining way more insight than they would have at church, of course.
My own family forgets what I said in the car on the way home. My kids are arguing. My wife is complaining. There are fourteen questions about the coming week’s schedule and who needs to be where when. “Oh and don’t forget, you need to decide what we’re doing in three weeks for that thing.” No pause. No reflection. Just forget and push on to the important stuff.
All afternoon I ponder the poor ways I said things, the points I forgot to make, the responses I should have had to people, and all the regrets and missed opportunities. No one calls. No one writes. No one texts. No one has any change or curiosity about anything remotely spiritual. Just back to the stuff. I’m tense. I’m frustrated. I’m depressed. I’m annoyed. I’m drained. And no one cares.
Why do I even do this? To all discernible evidence I am wasting my time here. Check the want ads. Update the resume. Nope, don’t qualify for anything. I have no experience, no training, no education anyone is interested in. Guess I have to do this another week.
Bedtime mercifully comes and I drown out the day and meld into Monday. Another week.
I don’t doubt my salvation on a personal level. The only time I doubt my salvation is when I pay attention to what people in my church are doing. Then I can only conclude I’m a complete waste of skin as a believer, as a pastor. The only time I doubt my salvation is when I see how fruitless and pointless my “ministry” is.
Not interested in help or lectures. I don’t want pity. Just explaining Sunday afternoons. Been doing it for almost 20 years now. I know I’m saved. I know the answers to my issues. I know them because I rest on them every week.
But Sundays are brutal.
How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me. How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me?