I was a young professional pursuing dreams. I got the job that I wanted. As I started this brand new season of my life, I was assigned at the Delivery Room for training. One day, I encountered an emergency just like in any other areas of the hospital. A pregnant mom who had a premature bleeding, delivered her son at home and was rushed in our area. The baby was 16-weeks-old. He was the length of my palm. With his translucent skin, I can see his veins and heartbeat, but not for long. Sooner, he held out his last breath. I was staring at his face and felt peace. I remembered these words I mumbled to him, "Sleep now, baby. You're going to a much better place."
Later that day, I had a chitchat with one of my colleagues. I told her my encounter with the baby. With her squinting and prying eyes, she asked, "Did you baptize the baby?", to which I answered "No, I didn't".
She told me in an as-a-matter-of-fact tone that the baby's going to hell because I did not baptize him. I felt my heart skipped a bit, then blood rushed through my face. I suddenly couldn't focus. I was young. I believed her. I believed her that the baby was doomed because of me. That night on my bed, I was crying so hard and praying to God that he spare the baby's life. I told God I was so so so sorry because I didn't know the consequence of not doing the ritual. I wanted to blame other people. I was trying to reason out, but ended up blaming myself. It haunted me for weeks. Shame and guilt enveloped me. I felt incompetent with my job. I felt small.
Years later, that event became a memory. I moved on and was doing well with my life. As I was hanging out with my younger sister one time, our conversation was reverted to our faith. She asked me why Jesus is called savior? I confidently answered, "Because he died for us on the cross." In my mind, I was like, yeah keep them coming, I know my theology. Our conversation went on until she asked again, "How will you go to heaven then?" Ooops! Now my confidence is slightly evaporating. I was not sure of my answer but I gave her one anyway. I said, "I'll go to heaven by doing good things?!?" (yes, with a question mark!)
She gently smiled at me, which was odd that day (haha) because her personality is strong. She started to explain in layman's term why Jesus needed to die on the cross, that redemption was God's plan from the very beginning. When Adam and Eve sinned, the world has never been the same again, so God, with his perfect love, devised a plan to take us back again where we belong--to HIM. It was information overload that at the end of the day, my head was pounding. Despite the headache, I accepted Jesus as my personal savior and lord that day. Still, I was perplexed by the fact that I don't have to do any good deed to go to heaven.
I grew up in a "good girl, bad girl' environment. If I'm a good girl, God is happy and I'm earning my place in heaven, but if I'm a bad girl, God is mad and I'll go to hell, or maybe he's thinking twice; maybe I can still score a spot. I knew the facts about Jesus. I cry when I watch movies or documentaries about his crucifixion, but that's just about it. I cannot comprehend and reconcile why he needed to die on the cross for me. I didn't fully understand why I have to pray in His name.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast. - Ephesians 2:8-9
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. - John 3:16
Jesus answered, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6
I was staring and reflecting at these verses for days after that fateful event with my sister. Suddenly, the verses became crystal clear and I found myself rejoicing--"I don't have to do anything, I don't have to do anything because Jesus did everything for me already!!!"
It was so amazing how God's word started to seep in my soul and speak to my heart. That day was the day I truly understood why Jesus needed to die on the cross. I was born a sinner. Sad truth is, sin is in my DNA. What's even more unfortunate is, I was meant to die because of my sins. How ironic it is to be born to die forever. Not one good deed can take me up to heaven, and so God made a plan to rescue me (us). He was the one who went down through his son, Jesus. Jesus died on the cross in exchange for my (our) sins. But because he is perfect, death cannot hold him and he lived again forever, with a free gift of salvation to anyone who will accept it.
If I can earn my place in heaven by doing good works (by going to church, be the nicest girl, attaining highest educational background and so on), then I don't need a savior at all. I don't need Jesus anymore. He need not be born and die on the cross. It totally made sense!
I once again remembered the baby. I was crying for joy because I knew I was delivered from that lie. The shame, guilt, condemnation and insecurities that I felt transpiring that day melted away. I knew the baby was saved by God's grace and mercy, but this is a story reserved for another day.
Truth be told, a lot of people, even the ones that I love are confused with the kind of faith I have now. I believe they just got used to see me do all sorts of religious rituals I grew up with, so now that I'm out of the norm, they seem worried. I understand them. All I know is that at the end of the day, what matters is how Jesus changed my life. He is real, he is alive!