Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. –Psalm 91: 14-15
Whenever I read verses about God’s faithfulness to those who cling to Him, I always find myself feeling completely reassured. Since I “prayed the prayer” and committed my life to Christ way back when, I rest in the knowledge that all the promises contained in Scripture apply to me. He will deliver and protect me because I know His name, and he will rescue me in times of trouble, because I love Him. That’s a pretty nice set-up.
Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s quite that clean cut. Yes, our salvation is guaranteed to us, so we can always trust that, ultimately, because we have made the decision to follow Christ, God will deliver us. But, salvation is more than that. It’s more than simply resting in the knowledge that God will one day save us. There is another aspect to salvation aside from the future aspect. There is also the present aspect, how our salvation is relevant today.
Philippians 2:12 tells us that we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” This does not mean that we have to earn our salvation, but it does mean that salvation is not merely a decision we made when we were ten. It’s also a decision we make every day. Every day when we wake up, we must once again make the decision to die to ourselves, and to follow Christ. Why? Because salvation is not merely about getting into heaven—it is also about being conformed to Christ, and that is a transformation that begins right now. We must always be actively seeking conformity to Christ. Working out your salvation means turning it into a visible reality through your life. Integrating your salvation into your being so thoroughly that it becomes your daily reality. Your salvation should define every breathe you take, every move you make.
So what does that mean when we read these passages that tell us God will deliver us since we have chosen Him? Well, we can read it on two different levels. We can read it as a reality that has already taken place, and will be fulfilled on Judgment Day when we face God and He declares us free, But we must also read it on the immediate level. Just because we are Christians does not mean life will always be easy, and that tragedies and betrayals will no longer hurt. Instead, it means we must continually run to Him when they do. God promises to comfort those who call on Him, but if we run to others, to material things, or to success when times are hard, then we aren’t living out the reality of our salvation, and we can’t expect God to comfort us.
Examine your daily life, and the circumstances that plague you, even the little things. When someone hurts you, do you run to a friend and slander the person to make yourself feel better? When you feel insecure, do you run to attention from guys to make comfort your self-esteem? If so, then when you read verses like Psalm 91:14-15, don’t be mystified when you don’t feel comforted by God in those difficult times. He’s not comforting you because you’re not calling on Him.
It’s not enough to make a decision one time, and go on with your life. Salvation is a lifestyle that requires every moment of our attention and energy. We must constantly be turning to the Lord in times of trouble, and even when times are good. Only then can we read these passages of encouragement, and rest in the knowledge that God blesses those who call on Him. And by that, He doesn’t mean once at an altar call—He wants every moment of every day.