You may not have any recollection of me…but I remember you: your petiteness , your hair and even your voice. One day we were out with your mother somewhere (this is, I believe, when we were in grade school) and we were talking about God. I told you that you could be sure that you were going to Heaven if you would ask Jesus to save you …and if you confessed your sin. You said you wanted to do that…..and so we prayed together in your mom’s car.
Here’s where the story goes wrong.
The next day we talked and I was desperately trying to make you understand that Christians live and act a certain way. We do not take the Lord’s name in vain….etc. etc. In my legalistic understanding of salvation back then…Not surprisingly, this did not appeal to you and you bailed. On God. Because. Of. Me.
I think of you often, when my failures come back to haunt me. And I pray that God brought you someone else to erase the angry God I introduced to you….and showed you the face of grace and love that the Father has toward you. I pray that, where I blew it, God came through and met you where you are….hopefully not stuck in a life of atheism. I pray that God will miraculously show you this letter --somehow and that you would be able to see that my error as a child was NOT the way God would have had it. I myself did not get out of that box until I was in my 30’s not entirely anyway. God passionately loves you and he wants your acts of faith to be exactly that OF FAITH…not jobs you are doing to keep an angry God happy. And when you fall and fail (as you will because you are human) GRACE is there waiting to pick you up and dust you off. God’s ears are loving and open to hear your confession and he will take your failure, wash it in the blood of Jesus and cast it into the deepest sea where neither you nor he will ever see it again.
This is not a life of “attempt, fail: repeat.” God’s love for you on the cross breaks that chain of failure and defeat and the self hatred and pain that comes along with it. It is the enemy of your soul that tells you those lies…that you will never, ever “get it”….that you will only be a disappointment to God for ever and always.
Here are some verses: words from the very Word of God and they were written by God with you in mind, Peggy.
and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep.
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it. NLT
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. NLT
So Peggy…..and all the Peggys out there: To everyone who was sold a bill of goods called “legalism” which implies that we have some role in earning or meriting our salvation: please read these verses and consider them to be a handwritten invitation by the Lord of the Universe himself, written to you. He loves you infinitely….and he wants you to have a second chance (or more). He wants you to know there is never a limit on his grace. It is like a steady stream of water. One stream flowing with ever new water.