I have a lemon bar recipe, but you will have to read the following before I will give it to you. Honor code applies!
(Just kidding, but really, feel free to read)
Trust me, you will want to stay for this party.
For those of you who do not know me, I am a Christian. I love Jesus, and I believe that I was made by God, for God, to know Him and make Him known to others people.
For so many years, I have pictured my salvation (meaning I am restored with Christ and saved from my own sin and death) in this way:
I am standing on the edge of a cliff, doing just fine all by myself.
Trodding contentedly along the edge of the cliff, this is the path I have been told to walk, when, all of the sudden, I take a misstep, a make a mistake, I "sin," and I begin to fall. It is inevitable that every one who sets out on that path will, in essence, "misstep" and fall. The path is too difficult for any human to complete successfully and make it through alive (what a path, right?).
So I begin falling, and my life becomes my fall. I can see the cliffs on both sides of me, yet either side is too far away for me to grasp onto. I am no longer in control, but falling, with the end in sight: my inevitable death. It was my fault, you know, for taking that wrong step, and now I am just falling through life, just as everyone else. Some peoples falls long and extended, some peoples short and succinct, but all ending the same way: death.
Obviously, I am in need of help, as my desire is to, of course, stop falling, I call out for help.
Someone Stronger, someone from above Who is not stunted by human limitations reaches down and catches me, literally catches me in His hands, and his Hands are big enough that my entire self fits in his palms. He then lifts me up again to the top of the cliff, because that was kind of the point, right? He sets me on the flat ground, far from the edge of the cliff. Relieved and somewhat in-shock, I thank Him. He nods, and I am safe. I am saved! I am no longer at risk of falling anymore. Now I can wander about anywhere I choose, I can make a good life for myself! I can stay away from the edge so He will not have to save me again! He will be watching me, protecting me from the edge, I know. But for now, I am safe. Let's just stay away from the edge this time, shall we?
This was my picture of salvation for the longest time, until about three weeks ago, actually, when the our great "Savior," for that is who He is, gave me a much better, clearer picture of His salvation.
It goes like this:
I am falling, again, but this time with no cliffs on either side.
I am falling from the sky, still, rendered completely and utterly helpless.
When did I start falling? I am not sure, I am pretty sure I was born this way; it seems normal to me.
What is at the end of this fall, you ask? Well, death, of course. But it happens to everyone; so it can't be that bad, or so people tell me.
But I don't want to be like everyone else. I don't want to fall anymore.
I am pretty sure that I was not born to die; I was not born to fall.
I need someone to save me from this; I need help from someone stronger than myself. So I call for help.
Yes, again, mid-fall, gentle yet firm hands come and catch me; I am safe in His arms, no longer falling--I have received salvation from the great Savior who's very passion is to catch those who are falling if they would just allow Him.
Here is where it different though:
What's next? I am caught in his hands: my initial salvation, but now there is nowhere else for me to go. Like I mentioned, there is no flat ground for me to stand upon; there are no cliffs no fields, no open plains that look good for settling down on. There is no ground, well, none except the solid rock of Christ that I find myself standing on in that moment.
There is none above me but sky,
none beside me but air and clouds,
none beneath me except the fiery rocks and crags below,
well, none below me except the firm hands, the rock on which I stand.
There is nowhere to go; there I remain.
Here is the point:
Jesus is the one through whom we have our initial salvation, he saves us from falling, but we must realize, there is no other solid ground except Him. Once you are in His hands, there is nowhere to go. He doesn't just simply find us a patch of ground and set us down, allowing us to wander through our lives, making a good life for ourselves, tending the ground, finding nourishment, but just "avoiding the cliff."
No, He catches us in his hands, and He holds us there.
The same one who saved us initially, saves us moment-by-moment.
He is the only thing that is holding us up from our utter destruction. The same one who saved us is still, at this moment, saving us.
This idea/picture comes from Galatians 3:1-9, when Paul is talking to the Galatians, correcting them about some lies that they had been believing, lies that were told them by a group of people called "Judaizers." These Judaizers were willing to admit that Christ was the one who initially gave salvation, but they tried to convince the church at Galatia that they must then do certain things to maintain salvation. When Paul heard this, he was irate, sternly addressing the Galatians: "You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you... After beginning by the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?"
It is easy to read something like this and shake it off--"Oh this doesn't apply to me..."
But how many times do we view salvation as the first illustration: falling off the cliff, God picking us up, putting us on the ground, and telling us to stay away from the edge. If we stay away from the "edge," we should be good, right?
There is no edge, there is no cliff, and there is no solid ground but the rock of Jesus Christ. Our salvation comes through him and he keeps us in Him, continually saving us until the day he comes back. I have not merely been "saved by Christ" once, I am being saved by Him right now. It is His grace and His power that is, at this moment, keeping me from the cruel and quite undesirable punishment that I deserve.
The deeper, more complex view that I have of my sin, the more I realize I am completely and utterly helpless.
The more I see my helplessness, the more I realize my need for a Savior.
And when my Savior comes, the better I understand the richness and fullness of His grace that He has ridiculously lavished on me just because I asked Him for it.
The same faith that saves me is the same faith that sustains me. He rescues me and He keeps me secure in him.
Who am I to think that by beginning with the works of God Almighty, I can finish out with the works of... me?
I am being saved, right now, moment-by-moment, from the pits of death and sin and hell. Yes, I am being saved right now by the One who loves me. I am being saved until the coming of Jesus Christ.
I was saved, I am saved, and I am being saved through, and only, through the power of Jesus Christ. Only He is strong enough to provide such a salvation as this.
So I challenge you, how do you see Christ? Is He saving you?
And while you are contemplating those facts of life... Lemon Bars! Who doesn't love lemon bars??? (If you don't love them, please don't tell me because I will judge you.)
Crack Lemon Squares
recipe adapted from this lovely lady's recipe
2 Cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, softened
6 large eggs
6 large eggs
2 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs butter, melted
1 cup lemon juice
powdered sugar for dusting
Preheat your oven to 350F.
1. For the crust: In a large bowl, combine softened butter, salt, and sugar and mix until fluffy.
2. Add the flour and continue to mix until it forms a dough like consistency.
3. Press into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish.
4. Bake for 16 minutes or until slightly brown on the edges.
5. While the crust is baking, mix the filling by beating the eggs in a large bowl until smooth.
6. Add the sugar and the melted butter and mix until combined.
7. Add the buttermilk. Mix. Add the lemon juice. Mix.
8. When Crust is finished baking, pour the lemon mixture on top and bake for about 30-40 minutes, until filling is set (meaning the middle does not jiggle when you shake it a little.)
9. Dust a tiny amount of powdered sugar on the bars while they are still warm. Allow to cool.
10. When the bars are completely cooled, slice, and sprinkle another layer of powered sugar on them before serving.
Stay hungry, friends.