I had the blessing of sharing with a group of friends yesterday my salvation testimony. It was the first time I'd put my testimony in quite those terms.
You see, for much of my life, I've had a fairly limited view of salvation--mine included. That is, I related salvation only to the moment when a soul repents, receives forgiveness of sins, and by the power of the Holy Spirit receives new life and the indwelling of the Spirit. And that's a reality in my life, for which I am unspeakably grateful.
But it's not my whole salvation story.
Sometime around the age of five (I'm guessing), I knelt at an altar in Mrs. Reed's children's church service on the second floor of The Salvation Army Citadel Corps on Eighth Street in Cincinnati, and received forgiveness for my wicked past, and salvation from sin and death and hell in the future. And so began my salvation.
Nine or so years later, God saved me from halfheartedness. Sometime during the Summer of 1972, I went forward and knelt at another Salvation Army altar at Camp Mihaska in Bourbon, Missouri (strangely enough). My mother was dying, and I knew it. I needed more of God, and I knew it. With the help of Lt. Curley, I made a more complete surrender of myself and my life that day. Truly believing that God was all I had, I gave him all of me, to the extent I knew to give.
Less than two years later (I can't believe it was only two years, because the intervening time felt like forever to me), God saved me from singleness. Now, don't jump all over me, please. I am not saying that singleness is a curse, or that it is something everyone needs saved from. But I did. When the lovely Robin came into my life (when we were both sixteen), God saved me from a future of making decisions alone, facing trials alone, carrying burdens alone, making plans alone, living life alone.
Sometime in the next two years, God saved me again, this time from a career. Instead, he gave me a purpose, a calling, and a ministry. Soon after, the lovely Robin and I entered ministry training with The Salvation Army, and have been in ministry of one kind or another for more than thirty years since.
Roughly twelve years ago, God saved me from a concern for my reputation. I know that "a good name is more desirable than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1) and "better than fine perfume" (Ecclesiastes 7:1), but I had to give that up, and leave it in God's hands.
Eleven years ago or so, God saved me from prayerlessness. Not that I had never learned to pray. Not that I had not worked hard at it before. But sometime in 2000, I think, God worked a miracle in my prayer life that has not ceased since.
And God is still saving me. As I told my friends yesterday, I think he is saving me from prosperity. He is saving me from self-reliance (though THOSE roots go deeper than most in my life). From stress, most of it self-generated and self-imposed. And more. And there is lots much more salvation yet to come in my life, including "the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:5, NIV).
And every step of the way, I am learning to work out my salvation, "reverent and sensitive before God," who works in me to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose (Philippians 2:12-13, The Message and NIV).