I never met the person who saved my life. I doubt I ever will. And she has no idea that she is responsible for my salvation because she is service a life term in prison. Currently, she’s dying of brain cancer, having been denied parole last September.
The woman who saved my soul murdered Sharon Tate and her unborn child. She was a follower of Charles Manson. Her name is Susan Atkins. When I was in high school, I read Susan’s book, Child of Satan, Child of God and gave my life to Christ.
If you read about Susan, there is a lot of controversy. Many people hate her, claiming she’s never apologized for terrible things she’s done. The say she won’t ever go to Heaven because her crime was so heinous. I don’t believe that. Susan says she gave her life over to Christ and if she did, I think she will go to Heaven. I know that a lot of people don’t think it’s fair that evil people can make deathbed conversions and get into Heaven.
Personally, I’m really glad. God judges all of our actions. Sin is sin and He doesn’t grade on a curve. “Okay, you only cheated on your taxes, but YOU cheated on your wife. You never fed or sheltered those less fortunate, but YOU never fed or sheltered your children.” Honestly, do we REALLY want to find out how God plans on judging our actions? I am relieved to know that salvation erases all sins. And are we really in the position to challenge God on what is fair. Not me thank you.
I think that part of the problem people have with “bad” people getting into Heaven (as if it is a simple ticket that they can buy) is that they think, “Oh, great. I led this good life, I didn’t cheat (much), I didn’t steal (much), I didn’t commit murder (but I killed a few friendships and moments for my own selfish reasons). Why did I bother doing all that good stuff when I could have been bad and STILL gone to Heaven.” All I can say is, “Boy, you should be REALLY lucky that salvation washes away all sins.”
You’re missing the point. We’re all missing the point. Good works isn’t what gets us into Heaven–salvation does. The good works should spring from salvation, not the other way around. As a child of God, I have an unending desire to do good things. It isn’t to win points from God, it’s to thank him for all He’s given me.
And we have a very limited perspective. We cannot know that something terrible and catastrophic was really a good thing because we cannot know what didn’t happen (if the terrible catastrophic thing hadn’t happened). As a writer, I spend a lot of time dealing with “what if’s” What if Susan Atkins hadn’t joined Manson’s cult and killed Sharon Tate. Maybe she wouldn’t have been put in prison, saved and witnessed to thousands of people. Maybe I wouldn’t be saved because of reading her story. When the tragedy in New Orleans hit, some of my friends–even Christians–said, “Where was God? Why didn’t he save those people?”
I say, God was with those people. God was with them every moment and offered comfort and peace to those who called out to Him. Did he wave his wand and remove them from their Hell? No, he is not a fairy godmother who grants wishes. And God made things right with that event. He brought our terrible, evil weaknesses to light–as well as our deep, unquenchable kindness and compassion. Again, the writer in me offers up a glimpse of what might have been (or yet to be–dealing with suppositional time travel always hurts my grammatical tenses). Someone was in New Orleans and saw the terrible tragic things as he was trapped in a dark, hot attic on one of those September nights. Once rescued, he decides to “pay it back” by becoming a doctor (or nurse, or firefighter, or policeman, or whatever) and is working one night when YOUR son (or daughter, or wife, or mother) is wheeled into the ER (has a car accident, is alone when the house catches on fire) and he saves your loved one’s life. Would he have become a doctor (or whatever) if he hadn’t gone through those terrible hours in New Orleans? Who knows. But it is often through tragedy that we rise to the occasion and demand more of ourselves.
How often do we hear about someone who experiences some tragedy–the loss of a loved one, an illness, an abusive relationship–and turns it around for good. Lance Armstrong has raised millions of dollars (and awareness) for cancer because he went through it and designed those simple yellow bracelets.
For me, the hardest thing about being a Christian is telling–verbally–people about Christ. It is just too intimate for me to put it out there. But when I write–that’s different. If you’ve read any of my other entries, you realize I have no filter when it comes to writing (see The Bathroom entry if you don’t believe me). It is easy (or easier) to tell people about my faith when I write about it. It actually took me YEARS (yes, I’m slow) to realize that my gift of writing might be MY way of bringing people to God.
I plan on seeing Susan Atkins in Heaven and thanking her. While she took lives–she also gave everlasting life. She has no idea that she saved me–and more than likely, I am not the only one who gave my life to Christ after reading her book. We never know who we will influence–who will see our life–who will change because they saw something in us that they wanted. If there is something that you are missing, something more that you want, then maybe you want to consider looking here. I don’t, for one moment, claim to know all the answers–that talent belongs to my son and daughter. THEY know everything. But I do know who I was before I was a Christian and who I am after. Yes, even as a Christian, I yell at my kids (duh). I fight with my husband and screw up at work. I haven’t performed any miracles and don’t have God whispering the Lotto numbers to me while I’m washing the dishes. But I know I’m never alone. I know that even if my whole world falls apart, God is there for me. Being a Christian doesn’t prevent me from being hurt, but it gives me strength to know I will get through it.