Monday, December 21, 2009

Saving Grace...

Let's talk about salvation...

I've been listening to podcasts from Jesuit Media Initiatives in the UK for the last few weeks. I mentioned this in a post a few days ago. These podcasts serve as a good meditation or "Lectio Divina" exercise for me as I drive to work in the morning. Late this past week I heard one that, among other things, made the point that we are incapable of saving ourselves.

That simple assertion gave me the opportunity to think about what we are saved from, and what we're being saved for. Let me share what my meditation produced.

In the first place, I think we're saved from ourselves. What I mean by this is that the "me" that yields to easy temptation, that relies on impulse or urge to determine his behavior, is the "me" that I'm being saved from. If left to my own devices, I would not be worthy of communion with God. As I indicated in my previous post, I firmly believe in my own incapacity to join in communion with God, and that communion is something I desire more than anything in life.

Communion with God is the way I describe what I desire. Eternal life, going to heaven, these are terms that are used to describe the same thing. By whatever name, I view this state of being as the ultimate goal of my life.

As I said, I am not worthy of that communion on my own. I believe that I can not bootstrap myself into a state of righteousness that meets the "entry requirements" that God mandates. It is this "me" that "I" am being saved from, this insufficient person that can't make the grade.

So, there's what I'm being saved from. But what's the point of this liberation, if that's where it ends?

Consequently, there has to be something that we're being saved for. I've come to the conclusion that we're being saved, or reserved or set aside, for the new us. I'm being saved for the "me" that God is creating even as I'm putting distance between "me" at this time in my life, and the "me" that existed when God crashed into my life.

I see myself as a work in progress. I made a decision over thirteen years ago that set into motion a whole new set of events in my life. In the intervening time, I can honestly say that I have never regretted making that decision. I'm far from being the perfect pupil of the lessons I have been given to learn. I'm far from having perfect attendance at the feet of the Master. But I have never regretted accepting the scholarship that gained me admission to the Master's school. My salvation is my term in that school.

One day I shall be ready for graduation. I'm even now being prepared for that. And it's that graduation that has been reserved for me. The "me" who receives the diploma is going to be different than the "me" who is typing these words. I can't say what lessons yet wait to be learned. I can say, with confidence, that I will have the best Teacher guiding and leading me.

So there's the product of that one assertion made a few days ago during a time of meditation. I am challenged, confronted, and convicted as I listen to these exercises and others that I have opened myself up to. I find myself being stretched to think about things that at one and the same time have both personal and universal implications.

What stretches you? What do you open yourself to that challenges comfortable notions and knee-jerk beliefs? What discomfits you? And when you find these things, what good comes from them? May we all have those things in our lives that do this and grow us in the process.

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