Chapter 29: The Punch Line

This is the last of a guest series by Phil Cate. If you have been helped or encouraged in any way by his writing, please send him an email or give him a call and let him know! (See contact info at end of post.) 

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Printed by permission from Phil Cate, Mama told me Jesus saved my soul, but who was gonna save my butt??? Confessions, lessons, and revelations of a born rebel, © 2008.

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Chapter 29
The Punch Line
  

       You guys already know the answer on who saved my butt. Of course it was God through His Son that could and did and does save my butt. He wanted to all along, I think, but I wouldn’t allow Him to. I was like many of the characters of the Bible. He was trying to take me someplace good, but I hedged Him out. I was busy trying to hold on to control.

       By the way, most of that control was somewhat well-meaning, as I’m sure yours is. I wanted to do a good job in my career, I wanted to raise my children well, I wanted to be “successful”, I wanted to have a good marriage.

       However, all of those statements above start with “I” and that’s what I had been focused on — “I”. He had to get me out of the “I” business before He could go to work on me and put me to work for Him; and He did, although I still sometimes fight Him on that.

       In some ways, I would go back and change some things about my life; but then again, that would change the story. And since God allowed my life to play out exactly as it did, I wouldn’t change a thing. I think my story now has an opportunity to help others and that’s what our God is all about — helping us. If nothing else, I think my story blows up a handful of myths.

       First of all, I think it blows up the notion that some marriages are beyond repair. Mine couldn’t have gotten any worse, and I am crazy in love with my precious wife today. I’d rather cut off my limbs than lose her.

       Here’s another myth that my story blows up: ‘Well, the damage is done, they’ve screwed up their life, there’s not much hope for them.’ My testimony completely blows that one up. I couldn’t have messed up more if I tried; and yet I have a fantastic family, a great career, unbelievable friends, and a fantastic faith journey going on that’s still alive and in discovery. Jesus not only saves, He heals.

       Here’s another one: ‘People just can’t change, or, That’s just the way I am.’ Oh yes, we can change; but I would submit that we change only with God’s intervention. I see people all around me that are nothing like what they used to be; but they, too, are all walking with God.

       Here’s a big one: ‘Some families are just so dysfunctional they’ll never operate well.’ Not only is my immediate family thriving, we had a family reunion on my dad’s side here at my house this summer and people came in from all over the place. We had a ball, and we’re getting closer every day.

       Here’s an obvious biggee: ‘I don’t have the education or experience to get ahead.’ That one is absolute garbage. God owns the gold mines, the oil fields, the banks, the sun and the moon. He can certainly move you through a life full of advancements if you just find a mustard seed or two lying around. He certainly did with me.

       Another huge one: ‘Half the people in the church are a bunch of hypocrites.’ The truth is, all of the people in the church are a bunch of hypocrites. The Church is and should always be a sinner’s hospital, not a hall of saints. And thank goodness, or they’d never let me in.

       This fallacy of this myth is self-evident through my story: ‘Church people are boring.’ I’ve been accused of almost everything, but boring is not one of them. Come on by my church, and I’ll introduce to you to some colorful cats. If the people in your church bore you, try telling them your story. They might have one as well. If not, go find another church. There are lots of them out there.

       Here’s another myth my buddy Marshall and I were talking about in the car the other night: ‘Faith is just believing something.’ But it really doesn’t take much faith at all just to say you believe something. Believing something is just an intellectual decision. Real faith is being willing to do something based on what you say you believe. Now there’s some risk involved requiring faith. It takes very little faith for me to believe in Jesus, but it does take some real faith to lay down my own way and follow Him. And that’s exactly what He asks us to do. 

       My story also tells this: If we’re not real careful, we can miss the whole point. I still believe that I have salvation of my soul by merely believing Christ came to die for me and was raised from the dead. However, I had to learn the hard way that Christianity, short of the eternal life thing, is not worth much here on this earth if I treat it like a philosophy. It’s also not a virus that I might catch at some revival and carry it around with me and it automatically affects me positively just because I was exposed to it. It is the application of Christianity that saves my butt on a daily basis.

       God must really love us to send His Son to explain this to us, knowing that we’d kill Jesus. I don’t think I can get my mind around that. I just know God not only saved my soul by sending His Son to die, He saves my butt on a daily basis by sending His Son and His Word, His children, and His Spirit, to tell me how to live. And for a born rebel like me, I need every tool in the shop to keep it between the lines.

       Mom was right. Jesus saves . . . even a wretch like me.

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Thank you, Lord, for saving me in every way. Keep me near you, as I am a wanderer, and you and I both know I will self-destruct without you.

Thank you for saving my soul, my marriage, and my relationships with my children; and keep me grounded in the knowledge that I’ve proven all will soon be lost if I walk away from you again.

Thank you for loving me even though I ran from you. Thank you for my family and for providing purpose in my life. Thank you for giving me parents that laid a foundation of faith.

Thy will be done, Lord, not mine, as mine will always be too rebellious and destructive.

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Phil Cate is a resident of the Atlanta, Georgia, metro area and runs a small medical equipment resale business. He is available for speaking engagements and can be reached at PhilC@ER3.biz or by phone at 678-429-0901

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