Songs of Salvation
by Jennifer Rodewald
Welcome to Songs of Salvation! Each Sunday I will feature a Christian author sharing a "Song of Salvation" to uplift and encourage believers and glorify God.
And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death. Revelation 12:11 NLT
Authors, find out how to share your Song of Salvation here.
The thing is, I was saved as a little girl. I remember my tiny yellow room in the mountain home where I spent the first seven years of my life. I remember wanting Jesus to be in my life—honestly, I think because the alternative was horrifying. I mean, hell? Did I want that? No way! But I also remember that Jesus was my friend—that He died to make me his daughter; all I had to do was believe and He would save me by His grace. That’s huge—even to a little girl. This idea of grace… it’s so beyond us!
So I prayed that He’d save me, wash me from my sins and be my friend forever. I know that He did, and He is. Someday I’ll see Him face to face—and I’m not sure how that’s going to play out, but I’m sure that it’s going to blow my crazy imagination.
But there’s this thing called living in the in between time, and I have a confession. I’m a total Pharisee. I am very much ruled by rules… and that has a tendency to make a person rigid.
I have not always loved well. That is a hard reality to face. As I’ve struggled to understand why, I have simultaneously wrestled with a soul-paralyzing question: Does God redeem the Pharisee?
Jesus has many words for the Pharisees, but few of them are tender. This is uncomfortable, to say the least, when you realize the woman in the mirror looks more like the legalist than the woman weeping at Jesus’s feet.
I wanted an easy answer. A quick assurance that God is tenderhearted toward me. The reality was that I had to search—much more than the search of Scriptures that was required for the alcoholic or the post-abortive woman (both of whom I’ve written about). This was frustrating, and frankly frightening. I wanted a place a Jesus’s feet, but there was this block in my heart, a whisper: there’s no room for me there.
I know from the emails I get from readers that many relate to this—at least to that whisper. The insidious lie of the enemy, whose greatest purpose is to separate us from our God. And it seems his favorite and most effective tool is to cast palpable doubt on our Father’s reckless, unquenchable love.
And there I was. Doubting. Not for my repentant brothers and sisters whose stories of redemption were, for lack of a better term, impressive. There is more than enough proof in the Bible to confidently say Jesus loves “the notorious sinner” (Luke 15). But a Pharisee?
Kindly, the Spirit led me back, again and again, to Luke 15. In that chapter, we find three parables: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal’s son.
I have come to think the last parable has been grossly mistitled. There are two sons in that story, and if we look carefully, we see that the Father, who is actually the central character, loves them both. I also have come to think that this parable, more than the others, was intended specifically for the Pharisee in Jesus’s audience and that it is, in fact, a tender invitation. The Father calls the older son “child”— a gentle word of affection, not a sharp, demeaning rebuke. He says, “All that is mine is yours,” the promise of great inheritance, and more: “You are with me.”
These are not the words of rejection. Not the harsh attitude of coldhearted rebuke. Suddenly, I began to hear the sweet tenderness of the Father’s love. Come. Enter joy with me. There is room for you too, and I want you.
It’s interesting that Jesus left the older son’s story open ended. We don’t know what he did—if he embraced the kind invitation or remained in the cold existence of duty rather than love. I kind of think that Jesus made eye contact with the legalists in his audience and that the light in his gaze was rather kind. Inviting. And in the silence, that look would have asked, how will your story end?
I’m letting you choose…
My story? My Father is love, and He has invited me to the feast. Not as a slave, but as His child. Not on merit, but on grace. The same grace that saved me in the first place.