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Let's get right into this most asked question, one that is asked by all creeds, colors, and nationalities. Both the young and old generations have entertained this question: "Why must I be saved?" First, let me tell you how I came to this startling and annoying question.
As a little boy growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, my mother began to go to church a lot, and I mean a lot, which interfered with my daily activities at the time. On Wednesday and Friday nights, we were loaded and hauled off to church every week, not to mention Sundays, when the whole day was spent at church. This was not favorable for a kid who had no interest whatsoever in being at church. We did this weekly, like clockwork. Oh! Let's not forget the weekly prayer meetings that I thought were really boring and absolutely ridiculous. I had never seen this kind of carrying on before: the loud screams; people falling on the floor and rolling like they were crazy; the lifting of hands; folks jumping up and down, skipping, and dancing around the church; men and women crying, both old and young. Often I would hear these people speaking in strange languages that I had never heard before, and white stuff was coming out of their mouths, which was called "purging." I would think to myself that they were going to have to call several ambulances to come and get all of these sick people. But after constantly seeing them coming to church every week and doing the same things over and over again, I got used to all of it. I had no choice then but to endure this madness, since my mom was one of the victims. After this went on for months without any sign of the madness ending, things got worse.
As if that wasn't bad enough, my mom started bringing what she was doing at church to our home and imposing on even more of my time. This was ludicrous and totally embarrassing for me as a child, because now all my friends would hear my mom calling and thanking Jesus, whoever he was. You would've had to know my mom; she was a committed follower of this man Jesus. After she claimed she had given her life to him, she came to praising and worshipping him. My mother was loud and didn't care about whether it bothered anyone. I thought that the crying, the lifting of her hands, and the shouting "Thank you, Jesus" would drive me crazy. I didn't like it at all, to say the least—not one bit. It was like my worst nightmare that just kept coming and getting stronger and stronger as the days went by.
My mother progressed in her devotedness to Jesus, and I progressed in my anger for her meeting this man Jesus. I remember the times when the telephone would ring and it would be one of those church people, and I knew before she got off the phone she was going to pray and the madness would start all over again. I'd be thinking in my mind, telephone, please don't ring, because the dogs would start barking and the neighbors were listening. My friends would tease me regarding my mom's loudness and the things she would say, the sounds of someone going mad. Being the person I had grown up to be in the neighborhood, I became defensive and told the guys that they couldn't talk about my mama. If they said anything, I was going to give them a beat down, and they knew I meant every word of it. Mom kept going as usual with her daily devotions.
One day, I was standing under the streetlight where we would usually gather, my friends and I, and a car that I had seen at church pulled into the driveway. When the driver got out of the car, I knew for sure it was the strange acting woman from church. About five minutes later, I saw another car pull up, and it was the real strange lady from church. I guess you know what was going through my mind then; you guessed it right: another prayer meeting. It wasn't long before all of the commotion started, and I had had enough. I tried to talk louder and captivate their attention, but to no avail; the church people cried louder and louder for this man Jesus.
As time went on, I began to realize that I was pondering and analytically rehearsing their prayer meetings and wondering why my mom had to call on this man Jesus. In my mind, I did not like Jesus and the things he was doing to the church people. My mind was flooded with so many questions, but I didn't want to ask my mom for fear of her getting started again, or maybe she would have to call Jesus to answer. There was only one thing I wanted: for my mom to go back to normal again. I can remember the one question I had that would always occur: why would anyone want to know this man, Jesus, if he was going to treat them like he was treating my mother and the others? However, my mind was completely made up; I wanted no part of this Jesus whom I could not see and who had such an effect upon my mother.
One hot summer day, my brothers and I were outside playing with our friends, and my mother opened the front door and began calling us one by one to come inside the house. Then she proceeded to tell us that company was coming over, and she wanted us to be in prayer. This was the epitome of torture for me. Mom had really outdone herself; I was sick and hated this with a passion. But what could I do? I was just a kid who had no choice but to submit to my mother's command. About one o'clock that afternoon, one of my mom's church friends pulled into the driveway and got out of the car, along with another lady who had this huge Bible in her hand. As I peeped out the curtains, I could see them getting closer to the door. There was something peculiar about the other lady. She looked like someone who didn't tolerate foolishness from anyone. She was short and dark, and there was something about her eyes that put fear in my heart. Immediately, I knew this meant trouble, and I didn't want to be around. When the knock came to the door, my mother hastily opened it. As I stood around the corner, peeping, they all greeted each other. Then came what I dreaded would happen.
They all fell to their knees, and boy, was I right! This other woman was a prophetess. She had a built in microphone system in her body. I thought my mom was loud, but this woman was extremely, bodaciously loud. I knew then that everybody on the street could hear where all of the racket was coming from. I ran to the bedroom window to see if there were people outside, and yes, they were there. I could tell they were trying to listen, because they would stop for a moment and then start laughing. Oh! This was painful; it sounded like there was a parade going on in our house. So I went back to watch the drama as they began to clap, shout, cry, and speak in other languages. This woman must have thought she was in a field, or she thought that everyone was deaf. After about an hour, I heard her ask my mother, "Where are your children? Tell them to come in the room so I can pray for them." I could hear my mom calling us, so I said, "That woman is not going to pray for me." Up and out the back door I went. Before I could get down the driveway, the voice of my mom rang out: "Rickey, get back here!" I begged my mom to not make me come in for prayer, because I didn't want it or anything to do with that woman. When I came into the house reluctantly, I stood there watching as she prayed and rubbed my brothers and sisters with some kind of liquid grease that made them shine like new money; it was actually olive oil. Once again, I began to think deeply about the foolishness of what was happening. Finally, this woman said to me, "Come here, son." Then she began to put that grease on me and proceeded to rub me down. She said that God loved me, and I said to myself, "Yeah right, sure he does." Then she told me to close my eyes and tell him, "Thank you." I can remember vividly thinking, "Why won't she just leave me alone and go away?" Then she blurted out, "You all need to get saved! You're not too young to go to hell!" I began to laugh and giggle, and my mother gave me the eye of reproof. So I had to straighten up or you know the rest. After it was all over, boy was I glad, but I couldn't shake the feelings and thoughts of, "You need to get saved." In my mind, nothing was wrong or needed saving.
After that prayer, my mother turned up the heat. She started taking us to Sunday school, as if I wanted anymore school, and that was even earlier on Sunday mornings. But I've got to admit, that phrase, "You need to get saved," stayed in my ears like a broken record, and my mom kept reminding me of it. As a child, I was always inquisitive and wanted to know or figure things out. What my mom and that lady had stated to me kept repeating in my mind.
One day, my mother was sitting at the dining room table, reading her Bible. First, I walked by her, observing what she was doing; then I came back again. Somehow, Mom seemed to know that I wanted something but was hesitant about asking. I remember her saying, "What do you want, Rickey?" Oh, did I mention to you that I loved my mother? She was my everything. I demanded her attention and loved to see her smile. There was no one like my mom. She is an awesome woman to this day. However, when she asked me what I wanted, it was my time to really tell her what I had been feeling about her behavior and that invisible Jesus man. So I proceeded to ask her why she was doing all of this stuff. She responded, "What stuff?" I said, "You know, the crying, hollering, lifting up your hands, praying, and calling on that man Jesus." I told her that she always talked on the telephone too long, and I couldn't talk to her or have fun anymore. I went on for a while, raising arguments about her changing and how she'd been saying she was saved now. I told her she was going to make Dad angry for talking about that other man Jesus all the time. I'll never forget to this day the smile that came over her face and the look in her eyes, as though she couldn't wait for me to finish so that she could give me one of those "grown up answers," but she kindly began to speak with an impressive intellect that I'd never heard before.
First, she reinforced her love for me by telling me how much she loved me and that she would never do anything to jeopardize or compromise her relationship with me. By this time, I was really feeling uncomfortable. I didn't like for my mom to tell me that she loved me, although it was important to me that she really did love me. Neither did I like for her to hug and kiss me, but I couldn't stop her. I felt all that mushy stuff was for girls. Then came her reasons for the changes that were tormenting my life.
She started by saying, "Rickey, Mommy loves you, and Jesus does too." She said that Jesus was God's Son, and she reached over, grabbed her Bible, and turned the pages as though she was looking for something to show me. Suddenly, she reached her hand out and pointed to a passage in the Bible and told me read it. When I fastened my eyes upon what she was pointing to, which was John 3:16, I read it verbatim carefully. When I finished that verse, she pointed to the next verse and told me to read it also. She was referring to John 3:17. After I read it verbatim, she asked me what I thought it meant. I immediately told her that I didn't know what it meant, and in my mind I was saying, "I really didn't care what it meant." I guess you know what Mom did, don't you? Away she went with explaining what the Scriptures meant and why she was behaving in such a manner.
Then she said something to me that really made me believe she had gone off the deep end or had lost all sense of saneness. She said, "Rickey, God wants you to be this way also, and one day you'll be acting the same way and doing the same, calling on Jesus." I loved my mom, but I knew she had really lost her mind. I started feeling sorry for my mom. I thought she was a mental case and that eventually they were going to come and get her and put her in a locked, padded room by herself. I said she had lost it for sure if she thought I would ever carry on like her, but she believed I would. I can still hear her words saying today, "Son, Jesus was sent into this world for you. He came and gave his life for you that you might be saved." She began to tell me about how Jesus suffered, died, and was nailed to the cross for the world and me. Boy, she really piqued my interest when she explained the way of the cross and how the Roman soldiers beat him and drove nails into his hands and feet. I knew with all my heart that I certainly wasn't going to be like Jesus and allow that to happen to me. No way, I thought. Forget it, it's not going to happen. But I continued to listen to all of the things she had to say about this Jesus.
My mom then began to explain to me why I needed to be saved and what being saved meant. Although she did not force her Jesus on me, the persuasion in her words of wisdom signaled to me that I needed to know her Jesus soon. But just as easily, many others who have heard about Jesus and were introduced to him have turned their ears and hearts away from coming to know him as their personal Savior.
Today I am happily married to my wife, Alma, and truly saved and sanctified. I have a very personal relationship with my mother's Jesus, who is now my Jesus and can be your Jesus too.
Why must I be saved? Let's look at the Scriptures in John 3:16-17. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." We should want to be saved; seeing how Jesus died on the cross for us really says it all. God truly loves us. Even those who have chosen not to serve him, he loves unconditionally. God gave his Son as the sacrificed lamb for a world corrupted with sin. The Bible states "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him" (2 Corinthians 5:21). Can you imagine the thought of a father or mother giving up their only son or daughter in the place of others, people they have no ties to or people who would probably do harm to them, people of other nationalities or ethnic backgrounds? Can you imagine that? Just the thought of it makes you want to cringe, but look at the comparison: that's what God did for us. Ask yourself, are we better than God? Are we better than his Son? I think not!
Excerpted from I'm Saved! Now What? by Rickey R. Adams, Sr. Copyright © 2011 by Rickey R. Adams, Sr.. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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