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Lloyd Waters: Seeking salvation? Avoid snakes and rocks

June 23, 2013|By LLOYD WATERS

“I don’t like to comment myself about heaven and hell,” remarked Mark Twain. “I have friends in both places.”

Often, however, people do have conversations about these faraway places, and about how we might get there.

As for me, I’m not exactly sure that even a GPS could be an absolute tool in securing my arrival.

People either are greatly concerned about their respective eternal resting place and their salvation, or could care less because they believe living this life is as good or as bad as it gets.

I remember when my grandmother died. I asked a local preacher to conduct her funeral, and he asked me if she was saved.

“She had chats with God,” I answered, “but God never told me of His specific plans for my grandmother’s salvation.” And “He really didn’t tell me about His specific plans for yours, either,” I added.

I didn’t much appreciate some heretofore sinful man, preacher or otherwise, suggesting to me that God gave him the power to determine a person’s salvation — especially my grandmother’s.

I remembered a line I read many years ago that always keeps me humble in my trying times: “One should examine oneself for a very long time before thinking of condemning others.”

Besides, many preachers and followers often become downright sidetracked and lose themselves when it comes to selling road maps for salvation.

Some are plain hateful to people at times. That behavior can’t be on God’s golden rule list.

Acquiring salvation can be a complicated matter for mere mortals.

Take for instance those folks from South Appalachia who preach in the woods while handling poisonous snakes to demonstrate their faith.

Why does one have to handle a poisonous snake to demonstrate faith? That doesn’t seem particularly wise.

A West Virginia preacher died a year ago while trying to demonstrate his faith by handling a rattlesnake, which bit him. Not enough faith? Nope; rattlesnakes just happen to kill you when they bite, I surmised.

Did that pastor fail to obtain his salvation because he didn’t survive the snake bite? I doubt his religious theatrics had anything to do with his salvation.

Many others proclaim simply, “What you see is what you get.” There is no tomorrow, and there is no life after death.

“Eat, drink and be merry” is a fine motto for you pleasure seekers.

I remember watching one of those Western movies some years ago, and as the old war chief was preparing to die, his last words were, “Only the rocks live forever.”

Perhaps rocks are eternal.

If you happen to accept that premise, there is no need to concern yourself with salvation. Relax, leave the snakes alone and enjoy yourself, because after this life nothing remains.

Some unholy thinking, from my humble perspective, but, hey, everyone has an opinion and each is entitled to his own beliefs.

If you really read between the lines of the Bible, I suspect salvation is actually awaiting each of us in spite of our provocative views.

Once a year, I try to read “Death on a Friday Afternoon” by Richard Neuhaus. This book examines the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and His last words.

As Jesus hangs bleeding and near death on the cross, He seeks forgiveness for those soldiers who put Him there.   

A strange request, indeed, of the crucified for his crucifiers.  Was He seeking salvation for these heathens?

In the next breath, He tells the thief on the nearby cross that he will be with Him in paradise on this very day. Knowing His position for the less fortunate, I suspect He must have had an equal concern for the fellow on the other cross.

Salvation is a unique subject matter for sure. 

If you’re looking for it, be sure to avoid the snakes and rocks. I hope you find it.

Lloyd “Pete” Waters is a Sharpsburg resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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