It’s not about me although it involved me. It didn’t originate in my heart or mind though it led to ongoing radical transformation of both. Certainly it wasn’t deserved by me but, hallelujah, it is undoubtedly mine and nothing can ever change that. You see, eighteen years ago today, August 4, 1994, a miserable young man – blind, lost, hurting and wasting away - was ambushed by a King who rescued him.
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:23-24
Before Christ invaded my world that Thursday morning eighteen years ago I had searched for meaning, substance, peace, love, security, hope and joy for most of my days. No gory details are necessary but I candidly confess that I tried nearly everything to calm my screaming heart. Nothing could bind up my brokenness so the shards of my identity just kept breaking into smaller and smaller fragments and I was little more than dust on the day of my redemption. Having grown up with enough religion to facilitate my ongoing guilt but not enough wisdom to yield myself to Christ, I certainly was not looking to become a Christian in those days. I knew little of God’s truth and had reduced Jesus to a schizophrenic powerhouse in my mind. I believed that He was sometimes gentle and kind while at other times a gavel wielding judge ready to slay me. In no way was I “working my way toward God” – quite the opposite as I was deathly afraid of Him and convinced if I ever stopped running it would be the end of me. Then He had the divine audacity to approach me with scandalous grace that promised to forgive me for it all and make this renegade His own chosen son. It all culminated after I left work that morning after a thirteen hour overnight shift. Driving home under such spiritual conviction of His presence, I literally trembled the entire time of that half-mile drive to where I was living. My mind can still see that little patch of dirty, beer-stained carpet in my apartment off of Sweetwater Road where I knelt and groaned out some pitiful prayer of surrender to the God I had feverishly sought to avoid for so long. He broke me that day so that He might raise me. He slew me to save me. He triumphed over me in order to triumph in me and through me. Yes, Jesus Christ saved me that day and I make my boast in Him alone.
If you ask me what my main feeling has been since that astounding moment in my life I would easily say that, to this very day, it is relief. I am still regularly astounded that He is so incredibly willing to forgive me and anyone else who is courageous enough to trust Him. I’m still not a good man, not when I’m set next to the holy standard of Christ. I am still a sinner – not just in the theological sense but in a very real, active and quantifiable reality. There is still no merit of my own whereby God is obligated to keep me as His own. The blood of Jesus has forensically cleansed me, the love of the Father has eternally secured me, the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit is diligently guiding me and I can scarcely choose a better word than relieved to describe my continual state of mind.
If you have never tasted of this banquet, please know that He is inviting you today. Don’t get spruced up before you come. Don’t worry about not being worthy. Leave all fretting about your past or your present for another day. He summons you to come before His throne so that He can reveal His patient understanding, indomitable compassion, lavish grace and redeeming love. He sets his mark upon His own and they will hear His voice and answer His call. I boast in the God who listens and empowers you to hear Him. Thank you, O King, for your great salvation! May it be known by those who are done feasting at this world’s table and finding themselves hungry another day.