Amazing Grace for a Wretch Like Me

Have you ever heard the song “Your Grace Is Enough?”  If you have been around church for anything length of time chances are that it has been sung as a worship song or played as mood music.  The chorus very simply states, “Your grace is enough for me.”  I have heard this song and sung in probably hundreds of times in the past 10 years, but the words became incredibly alive to me about a month ago during a church service.  The band began playing music, and I immediately recognized the tune.  However, when the leaders began to sing, I could not lift my voice to join in the refrain.  At that moment God showed me an incredible truth that I had simply been failing to recognize and a subtle lie that I had exchanged it for…

The past five months have been some of the most difficult in my spiritual journey.  Ideas that I have about God have been challenged, the way that I read and interpret the Word has been tested, and I have failed to see that God is at work. I have been reminded of my deep sinfulness and how easily I am distracted.  There have been tearful nights full of sorrow and nights of deep pain in which the tears simply would not come.  Simply stated, I did not experience or recognize the nearness of God for much of the second half of 2013.  I did not lose my Bible knowledge, and I tried my hardest to cling to Psalm 73:26-28, maintaining the nearness of God as my good.  All my attempts at reassuring myself by what I know were futile.  I slowly began to recognize that all my efforts to recall Scripture were not enough because I was not believing and trusting the truths that I have so long held to.  All the knowledge in the world is not able to overcome a lack of faith and lack of belief.  I realized how pointless my knowledge was if I was not believing… 

During all of this everything from an external level seemed wonderful.  I was doing well in school, performing my job as an RA, and even started dating an awesome, godly woman.  All those externals were not enough to alleviate the pain that I felt or the darkness in which I walked.  My prayers were mechanical and powerless.  My time spent in God’s Word was obligatory.  My conversations about spiritual matters often lacked the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.  My understanding was weak and my faith grew smaller and smaller.  I was being humbled beyond measure by the weaknesses that I recognized.  There were days that pain drove me to cry out to the Lord and to run to Him, but most days I only went to Him because I knew I was supposed to and that I desperately needed to.  There was no urgency in my pursuit and practice of His presence.  I was clinging to faith and clinging to love, hoping simply to weather the storm…

I remembered my godly heritage and the way that I used to approach the throne of God with my friends and loved ones.  I remembered the times that I had urgently sought the face of God believing that He would hear my prayers and respond.  I remember times having His eyes and His heart for people.  I could recall conversations in which the Spirit flowed through and broke down walls and barriers in other’s lives.  All the memories served only to deepen the pain and remind me the degree to which I had fallen.  There was no solace in remembering only an overwhelming feeling of guilt…

Then that night at Blue Ridge when we began to corporately sing that His grace is enough, that He has reached down to us, that He wrestles with our hearts, it all began to make sense.  It was not an instant enlightenment that began to wrangle me up from the pit, but instead it was a spark that began to illuminate.  That night I realized that I often believe that God’s grace is enough for everyone else except for me.  FALSE!  It is as if I think that I should know better than to commit certain sins or to give in to temptations and am therefore undeserving of God’s grace.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Throughout this period of darkness I was quick to extend an invitation to God’s grace to others, but I was unwilling to accept it myself.  Certainly I could make no excuses or come up with any good explanations to explain my lack of pursuit of God and desire for Him.  Certainly my sinfulness was too great to be pardoned because I know better….

What I didn’t realize is that this attitude is nearly blasphemous.  It ultimately is a belief that Jesus’s sacrifice on the cross was not enough for me.  How foolish and arrogant a thing to say!  It is a slap across Jesus’s face to say that He spilled His blood as a sacrifice for the covering of all sins, but my sins are too great to be included in that.  My life was demonstrating that I still felt as though I had something to earn.  The moment that a restored relationship with God becomes contingent upon my own works of merit is the moment grace has been eradicated and a law of works has taken its place.

Please read all of Ephesians 2 to get a better idea of what I am saying, but below I include verses 3-9.

Ephesians 2:3-9 (NASB)

Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

For a long time I have boasted in my own spiritual strength, in my ability to seek after God.  However, I have come to so clearly see that it means nothing for me to seek after God if He has not taken the first step of initiative.  I no longer want to neglect or deny the grace of God poured out in the blood of Jesus Christ.  In Him I have believed for my salvation, and in Him I must continue to trust for the sustaining power that makes me alive. 

Since that service about a month ago, I have learned a host of things that I can do to improve in my walk with the Lord, but the foundation of it all is remembering His grace.  He has changed me and humbled me in so many ways.  I am not who I once was and my progress and growth continues to be up and to the right.  Every season looks a little different, but He will continue to carry me through each one.  I look forward to what the next season holds as I attempt to eliminate distractions and run into His presence and as I return to the simple truths for the foundations of my deeper spiritual musings. 

The Lord truly is my light and my salvation, and He will always continue to be my song…

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