I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be,
I am not what I hope to be in another world;
but still I am not what I once used to be,
and by the grace of God I am what I am.
God, be merciful to me, a sinner (Luke 18:13c). No other Scripture succinctly sums up my state, my utter dependence on Christ who, being rich in mercy and grace, bestows the very breath upon which my cry escapes. There are many days I labor to find the will to do even the most basic acts of daily living. My bed becomes a shackle, an escape from the daily battle of living. The very chains that imprison me become my shelter, and in shame I hide my face from the Son. His gentle tenderness touches my innermost being and He breathes into me new life and new hope.
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I hope in Him!”
John Newton stated, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great savior.” Indeed. The beauty of Christ is seen in the barrenness of our souls. Our burdens are the gifts we lay at His feet. Our cries are the symphonies of the great Composer and the songs of the redeemed. Our wretched, filthy rags, are His to reclaim, to repurpose, to clothe us in all righteousness, His righteousness. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the stumbling block in the darkness of the City of Man, but to us it is the cornerstone, the foundation, the power of God to salvation. It is the Light that will never be extinguished.
He is more beautiful to me in my weaknesses, in my tribulations, in my afflictions. He draws His image upon me, my brokenness the pen He presses upon my soul. My infirmities, the ink. The more afflicted, the darker and richer His Word flows. I am a Great Sinner, and He is a great Savior. In my weakness, He has caused me to be lifted up, to soar, to proclaim His faithfulness. I have learned the meaning of the apostle Paul’s words: “His grace is sufficient for me.” Indeed, it is overflowing.
He has set before our family many a trial and affliction. But I have seen the wisdom in the course of the pen of the Almighty. Would I be so quick to cling to His breast, to understand the suffering of others, to lament my own sin and weaknesses? I would not. The easy, wide, and smooth path is the road to the City of Man. The winding, treacherous, difficult one, the way to the City of God. I would not have it any other way. The lot He has given me is overflowing with mercy and grace. I am blessed to be broken, to be weak, to be emptied of myself, to recollect with pain the sin that Christ bore upon Himself in my stead. My grief in sin overcomes me, but its wretchedness is paired with the tender mercy of my Savior. His condemnation rests not on me, His love is carved into my soul. All that I am, is written with the imperishable ink of the Sovereign God. My story is His story, His magnum opus. All for the glory of the most glorious One. Yes, indeed, I am a great sinner, but He is a great Savior.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His 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 of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
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