Unsettled Christianity

Gloria Dei homo vivens – St Irenaeus
September 2nd, 2014 by Joel Watts

about my heart…

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wesley had been on missionary journeys, preached, and taught and yet he did not know the blessed assurance of Christ. He had received this and that advice from pious men, generally to continue on until he knew for himself that salvation was his.

On 24 May, 1738, Wesley was dragged to the society meeting at Aldersgate where they started by reading Luther’s preface to Romans. Suddenly, something happened…

I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone, for salvation; and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.

His heart was strangely warmed.

Growing up a fundamentalist, as I have often documented, we dwelled in the constant fear that we would see God in his most wrathful state, our salvation dependent upon how our state of sinlessness before we died. There were no deathbed confessions, only a hope we could somehow measure up. When something bad happened, it was God warning us. We had deserved it and in God’s finite mercy, he had chosen to warn us before outright sending us to hell. If something bad happened, it was a sign we were in danger of hell. We should find the leaven in the house and get it out.

Wednesday night, I went to bed ready for an early start to our annual beachside vacation. I had a few things I needed to do at the office on Thursday but otherwise, I was ready to go. a few hours later, I awoke in what I now know was atrial fibrillation. Further, since I went undiscovered about roughly 2 hours, I was also dehydrated considerably. Long story short, there are a lot of issues compounded but I have a slightly enlarged left atrium of my heart and show signs of some heart damage. Most of the issues can be taken care of with a change of diet and a few medications to prevent major problems until I get everything else under control. The enlarged heart, however, will never go away.

I would rather not concern myself with what would have happened had I not been discovered when I did.

As I was laying in the ER room, and later in my hospital room, I pondered a few things. Not one of them included my state of perfection or my location in the life after this one. I have discovered that this is not my concern. If there is a God and if Christianity is true, then my state has already been secured. I have nothing to worry about — and nothing to do to add to that security. I can do nothing to be more saved than what Christ has done in his faithfulness. I cannot unsave myself either. I can, however, more fully rest upon him because I have had that faith tested and I did not waver.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I am not afraid of not waking up in the middle of the night. My fear, now, is to never see my loved ones again, to never hug my children again, and to never know another sunset. I worry about every odd pain or short breath. I am sure this will go away. I know I overthink things. But, it is a bit scary.

Fanny Crosby, a Methodist hymn writer, says it best.

 

Joel Watts
Watts holds a MA in Theological Studies from United Theological Seminary. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians, as well as seeking an MA in Clinical Mental Health at Adams State University. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Comments

3 Responses to “about my heart…”
  1. david376 says

    Joel -I am relieved for you and your family. You have shown yourself to be a strong and decent fellow through this ordeal. I hope you can enjoy the beach and rest in grace for awhile. God bless you, friend. David Kirkpatrick

  2. Milton Almeida says

    The heights of our assurance, which was a “heresy” according to the counter Reformation Cardinals, often comes when we realize the feebleness of our life. However it is when our Christianity also reaches its highest point, in fact, the only point designed for us to reach in Christianity! What is more Christian than to believe Jesus work for me as the sole basis for my assurance… not my performance or anything that religion has added to it?
    I, the owner of an enlarged heart, (hey, that could be a song I heard once before by YES… oh, that was “owner of a lonely heart…, okay, that too…) am very happy to see that all is well with you! I thank God for His caring of you!
    BTW, you were a fundamentalist???? Are you kidding??? How come I never heard or read about this before? 😉

  3. Praying for you, brother.

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