Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On the joy of discovering I am a wretch

I used to enjoy visiting cathedrals, basilicas, abbeys, cloisters ... anything that was old and resembled something artistic and architectural.


Milan, Italy. Duomo
I enjoyed the peace inside, the stillness and coolness. I liked to look at the art and the statues. Visiting a church as a tourist is different than belonging to one as a Christian. I was blind, I did not see.

Paris, Notre Dame

In Pisa, I enjoyed the acoustic perfection of the Baptistry. Really. It is acoustically perfect. And who doesn't love the story of the Leaning Tower? I heard the sound of a tenor voice sweetly rumbling among the rafters in the Baptistry. I could hear the notes, but I was blind. I did not see.

Enjoying a church as an architectural wonder is great, but it got me no closer to Jesus.
Quito, Bell Tower
These churches are mausoleums to emptiness, odes to nothingness. And far be it for me to visit a working, bible believing church. Too new. Too uninteresting. It had nothing for me. Sigh... I was so blind. Far better to stick with large, tourist oriented churches. Safer that way.  I heard the bells and listened to the choirs and studied the history, but I was blind...

St. Paul's Cathedral, London

Even in a simple clapboard church, if I happened to visit for a service, and if they happened to play the wonderful hymn, Amazing Grace, I'd sing, all right. But when it came to the part about 'saved a wretch like me', I clamped my mouth shut. I was not a wretch, I was not, I was not! That lyric was stupid, I thought. But I was blind. How could I see the most important thing?
Labrador
I sang of grace, but I didn't know what grace was. (Unmerited favor from God). How could I possibly know how amazing it is? I didn't. I sang pretty words that had no meaning for me. "I once was lost but now I'm found" is a comforting lyric. I could safely relate to that. Who doesn't find comforting the notion of being lost but found and enveloped in arms of love? Yet I was blind, and did not know I was lost and I did not know love. I didn't know the height from which the arms came down to envelop me nor the depths of sin in which I was living. (1 John 5:17)

Then I was saved. (Grace!) I came to know Jesus (Amazing!) But the most important thing of all is learning that He is not in a cathedral or abbey or cloister or basilica. He is now in my heart and He is now with me wherever I go. I had been looking for Him the whole time, but I was missing Him by a mile.

I praise God that He came down to us as a babe. Grace came down to live with us (Immanuel; Matthew 1:22-23). He lived a perfect life so that He would qualify as the Lamb of God to be slain as the sacrifice for sin. He sent me a spirit of repentance and of faith so that I could know Him and be reconciled to Him with no wrath between us. (Romans 8:7).

Now I have the best Christmas gift of all: I know I am a wretch! I sing that lyric with gusto. I know Jesus loves us and He came to put away sin. I know that in my wretchedness He came to save me. I once was lost but now I'm found. Christmas, (and Easter), made it all possible. Thank you Jesus. Happy Birthday!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.

The best photo of all --

5 comments:

  1. Thank you and AMEN!

    Merry Christmas to you and all of my Bros and Sisters in Christ!

    Robert

    ReplyDelete
  2. Have a blessed Merry CHRISTmas Elizabeth. Keep up your amazing work, I totally love what the Spirit lays on your heart.
    <><

    ReplyDelete
  3. Wonderful post Elizabeth! I love looking back to see where I was and where I am now in Christ. It's amazing! Merry Christmas everyone.

    Marrell

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Robert, Child of God, and Marrell! I hope your CHRISTmas was blessed :)

      Delete
  4. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands... (Acts 7:48)

    ReplyDelete

Prata Potpourri: Women's discipleship, Librarians on horseback, reviving prayer time, more

A selection of links I've come across that you might find edifying, interesting, or amusing! Rachelle Cox at Each Passing Phase wrote...