Salvation — And Then ?

However, “being saved” is just the beginning. What should follow is a lifestyle of ongoing spiritual growth; ideally, to become more and more like Jesus in my thoughts and behavior. “The law” of the Bible gives God’s criteria for people to live according to His will. However, it also clarifies the impossibility of doing so if one relies on their own behavior and reasoning.  That God wants me to allow Him into my life certainly requires me to first be “saved.” However, I now have a conscious awareness that I exist in a state of grace.  God now sees me not as the sinner who deserves to be punished for missing the mark, but as a much-loved child whose past, present and future shortcomings have been forever accounted for by Jesus’ and His resurrection.

Just as a baby leaves its mother’s womb by being born, it takes 18 to 20 or more years to reach physical maturity. Yet more years are needed to become emotionally mature.  After first being “born again,” a lifetime of potential spiritual growth awaits the new believer.  This applies to new believers of any age, from children to “seniors.”

The Bible makes it clear that everyone falls short of Jesus’ demand of perfection (Matt 5:48).  Even the apostle Paul admitted he had this problem (Rom 7:14-25), so continuing to grow spiritually becomes a lifelong process for Christians.  I strive to grow toward the ideal that God wants of me, while at the same time, when I do fall short, knowing that I live in a state of God’s grace (having been saved), I am secure in God’s ongoing love, guidance and protection.  God’s patience and grace covers my shortcomings as I aim to grow closer to His ideal to become like Jesus.

When I was “born again” at age 17, it required my being willing to become the person that God had in mind for me to be — learning what His specific plan was for my life, and then deciding to follow it.  When that first happened, I had only vague ideas about this. I only knew when I stood up at that Campus Crusade For Christ rally in Los Angeles in response to Evangelist Bill Bright’s invitation to any in the audience who wanted to yield to God’s call, that I intended to keep attending services at Grace Lutheran Church as I had been doing, where I was also active in the youth group.  

At the same time, my Christian walk has been an ongoing “becoming” — my being open to God’s fine-tuning my walk — by my willingness to accept correction.  Over the years, correction has happened in many ways, all of which were rooted in my growing in knowledge of how His written instructions and history — the Bible — related to my everyday life.  I now see that this has been a process that began when I first attended Sunday school as a five-year-old child.  

It is one thing to read and understand what the Bible’s words say, and another to understand with “heart knowledge” and experience how those words apply to real life situations.  God has used other people, circumstances and life experiences to teach me, but it ultimately has fallen on me to know the Bible well enough to be able to evaluate Preachers’ and other peoples’ words and actions as they apply to these circumstances and experiences. That’s why it is important for me to fellowship with other believers (“go to church”), so we are able to mutually benefit each other.  

So, how did the above apply to my running my charter boat business, Sound Eco Adventures (SEA)?  What are the basic tenets of my Christian faith that guided me through my SEA adventure?  For openers, my faith and beliefs changed — seeing God at work in the business caused my faith to grow.  SEA was a major, 24-year phase of my life.  My understanding of all the ramifications of the “SEA experience” is still growing as I now have time to ponder the current phase of my “retirement.” 

In 20:20 hindsight, I can now better evaluate the SEA experience and all of its ramifications. These ramifications have included my getting to know people better – my friends and a large extended family, my business clients, employees, associates, service people, and the government employees that government regulations required of me to operate.  As that unfolded, I continued learning more about myself as well as the Sound’s physical and biological natures.  And especially, learning all the details of managing the business, and of owning, operating and maintaining a boat.  

All of these things have improved my ability to live life in the present.  Sometimes it has involved evaluating events and circumstances after they happened.  As life continues, I have gotten better at observing as things are happening, and anticipating in advance what my role or behavior that God would have me do in any particular instance.  Put another way, it is walking in active faith and assurance that God is guiding me in the moment, rather than my being unaware of God in my walk, and then in hindsight, remembering that God had been there with me all along. Put yet another way, having learned from past events, it is anticipating things in advance to avoid blind groping in the present.

In practice, I sometimes thought that I was on the right track, only to learn later that I wasn’t.  I then made needed corrections, and continued on in faith, believing that God was guiding me.  His grace carried me through my shortcomings.  At that realization, I adjusted my course as needed.  Put in terms of steering a boat, I aimed toward a certain waypoint, but if wind, currents, bad weather, a dense fishing fleet — whatever — were encountered, I had to adjust the boat’s course to avoid a problem.  It is being flexible and constantly open to the possibility of needing to alter my course to avoid obstacles and improve the outcome of any particular situation.

I may fiddle with this piece some more, but that’s it for now on January 15, 2021.

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