Once again I was sitting in someone’s house with my heart feeling as if it was about to explode in my chest, it was beating so hard. Sometimes I can sit there, almost calm, just listening to other people speak. But this time, I had something to say. I had been thinking of the question most of the week, and I thought maybe my answer was something they would like to hear. Sometimes they do.
So the question was asked, and everyone in the group had an answer. It was a small group that week, as people were away for various reasons. I listened to them. I tried to wait for a break, so that I could talk too – but though everyone else seemed to find their space to talk, mine never came.
All the while my heart was pounding, louder and faster until I almost couldn’t breathe. I prayed for calm. I prayed for a chance to speak. I prayed that once my chance came, I would be able to find the words to say… I knew what I wanted to say, but often the words don’t come out right, and it is really hard when I am unable to find silence in order to gather my words. That silence didn’t come.
And the moment the last person in the group spoke, and I was sure my turn would be next, they had already moved on to the next question. As the evening went on, I found a chance to say a few things, answer a few questions – but the question I felt was most important to answer passed me by.
How do I know I am saved?
Maybe my reason for knowing is different from theirs. It probably is. Maybe my reason wouldn’t help them. Everyone there was raised in the church, but not me. Maybe my reason was wrong. Even so, it was one thing I wanted to share with them, and I never got a chance.
Perhaps the reason I wanted this so much was that I am not sure they believe I am… or maybe they don’t know that I am sure. After all, I never pray at prayer time. I stopped praying out loud long ago. I understand why people do, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I have trouble enough speaking my thoughts at the best of times, and when I do speak, it is almost always for the other person. So not only did I struggle to put my thoughts into words while I was praying, but I also feel like I am praying for the sake of the people around me, rather than talking with God.
If there is a quiet time during prayer time (it does happen) I will pray quietly in my head – but not out loud. When I did pray out loud, years ago because I thought it was right, it felt… manipulative. That is not how I want to talk to God. That is not what I want to be with other people. Manipulative. I know that is wrong. So I don’t pray out loud anymore – and maybe because of that, they don’t know I am saved… but I am.
So how do I know I am saved?
Years ago my husband said that when we found ourselves singing worship songs – not at church, but as an answer to a thought, or having them get stuck in our heads, or just suddenly singing them – that was the Holy Spirit prompting us. In order to have the Holy Spirit, we have to be saved.
Only even as a child, when I wasn’t Christian (and neither was my family) my favourite song was “Away in a Manger.” I must have sung that song more times in my life than any other, and it was because I liked it. I think we can choose to sing worship songs, without being saved – but then came my dreams.
For as long as I can remember, I have been dreaming of the end of the world. I am walking, alone, down a street after a devastating earthquake, or a bomb or something goes off, and I see so many bodies – people I know, people I don’t know – mangled, and hanging out of apartment windows, or strewn about the street, or something. Nobody is alive but me, and I feel so alone. So afraid.
Or I am in a jail cell, awaiting execution or torture. Sometimes I am alone. Sometimes I am not. I know what is coming, and it terrifies me. Or at least it did.
Enter my faith. I still have the dreams. They are still very much the same. Only in these dreams, when all things seem lost, I have hope. I know where I am going. I know what is coming, but it is no longer everything. And I start singing. I sing when I am alone. I sing when others are there. The songs I sing are worship songs – and when I wake up, I know that was the Holy Spirit, there, even in my dreams. I have hope, even in my nightmares. I never had that before.
That is how I know I am saved.