Gypsy Woman Begging on Venice Staircase

This is a salvation story written by Mary — my generous, tender-hearted
friend.  The story came to her after reading the New Testament letter from
the Apostle Paul to the Ephesians.  What stories, verses, sounds,
or experiences remind you of your Salvation Story?  I read recently, “When
we are more afraid of the power of sin than we are confident in the grace
of God, we will hide from each other.” (TrueFaced)  I think that means
how we think about our salvation stories is revealed in how we live.  If I
know — heart and soul — that I am saved: when I feel lost, I will seek the
Finder and want to share Him with others who are wandering in the dark;
when I feel anxious I will invite into that panicked moment the Love who
casts out all fear and then I won’t be impatient with other anxious people;
when I feel shame, I will read the Promise,”There is no condemnation to
those who are in Christ Jesus,” over and over again, and I will eagerly
want to be with others who fall down again and again and again.  When I
can’t see the future, I ask the One who is the Beginning and the End of all
my stories to be my Peace in the midst of blurred or even completely blocked
vision — which gives me a reason to wake up in the morning.  I have good
news for lost, scared, broken, hopeless people — people just like me —
who either haven’t heard or have forgotten their salvation stories.

If you’re feeling lost, scared to death, ashamed, and hopeless that
life could be different, don’t beat yourself up.  Those are the moments
when we need to remember or re-tell a salvation story.  Jesus Saves.  It
really is good news.  Thank you, Mary for telling your story — reminding
those of us who feel alone, unnoticed, unloveable, doomed to finding
hope in, that there is another story that not only makes the
story we are living bearable, but it reminds us that this story we’re living
is a prelude.  There’s something about your story that saves me a little
today and reminds me to not even look at my “rags” of loneliness, shame,
failures, etc.  And it also reminds me that the really, truly, too-good-to-be
true salvation story is that in the blink of an eye I will have no need for or Nordstrom’s.  I will be eternally living a
story that is too good to be true — wardrobe provided!

I don’t know what Mary was feeling when she read, “Christ’s love makes
us whole.  His words evoke our beauty.  Everything he does and says is
designed to bring the best out of us, dressing us in dazzling white silk,
radiant in holiness” (Ephesians 5:26).  Upon reading these words, she
wrote her salvation story.

Boy & Girl Formal

Here is The Beggars Ball. I call it The Beggars Ball which in and of itself
means I’m needy or the Prince himself invited me. I was reading in
Ephesians and it was born through these thoughts… we are made
whole and holy by his love. He wants us to enter into the celebration of
his lavish gift-giving, by the hand of his beloved son.
I imagine myself at a very large ball. There was no fairy god-mother to
dress me in beautiful attire. It’s a ball of beggars, misfits, crass people if
you will, lacking any royal qualities. Yet here is where I find myself. I
want to cower in a dark corner when the Prince walks in. I hide as far
away from his glorious spotlight as possible. Yet I peek on Him. To look
on such a face brings me swiftly to my rags and lack of beauty. Oh, but to
even gaze at this prince is thrilling.
He’s moving in the large crowd — everyone dazzled. I don’t even notice
his movement toward me until he’s right in front of me. The music starts,
or has it been playing all along? His eyes upon me, he holds out his
pierced, scarred hand and beckons me to dance.
When I take his hand, I see my rags soaking into this scar. My rags are
like a shadow, completely eclipsed by his substance … yet He bares his
hand to me still. He wants me. He loves me. I take His hand with tears
streaming down my face and I’m transformed. My heart is changing.
And as the inside is infiltrated by his Love, my outsides are very bride-like.
I’m beautiful because of Him. Suddenly I’m fit to dance with the prince.

“My soul, bless God.  From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name!  He
forgives your sins — every one.  He heals your diseases — every one.
He redeems you from hell — saves your life!  He crowns you with love
and mercy — a paradise crown.  He wraps you in goodness — beauty
eternal.  He renews your youth — you’re always young in His presence.”
Psalm 103, The Message