Emmanuel Grace

Built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself being the Cornerstone

My story, my song

Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story...

What is my story but the telling of the One that is leading me home. It becomes my song that I sing in praise to God, like Moses and Miriam singing after their great deliverance from Egypt, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” (exodus 15:13)

I used to think my story was boring and would wonder why I didn’t have a ‘riveting’ testimony like those I would hear about who God brought out of drug addiction or who had done terrible things or had come from horrific circumstances to then find the love of God and have their lives completely transformed. I knew about Jesus, believed he died for me and that my sins were forgiven but where was the "inexpressible" joy and the transformation of life? How could I get there if I hadn’t had experiences like that and if it seemed like i was already there? Something still felt like it was missing…but what?

Jesus tells us that the rich in this world will have difficulty entering the Kingdom of heaven.  In the same way that Jesus didn’t mean just physical bread when he spoke about bread I believe that we can extend the meaning of “rich” from the materialistically wealthy to also mean those who live as I did(and that until just recently):

“good”  

That is, the spiritually “rich” . While the spiritually poor have nothing or very little of themselves to sustain them and so they depend on God for everything, even his blood, the rich have enough in themselves to not need God’s help, they can do it for themselves. If ‘goodness' was  currency, the poor see they have none of it but the rich have it stored up.   Like the rich in dollars who have no need to be helped out of debt or to ask for charity, the rich in spirit do not see the need to be saved from sin(if they are being honest). They may know they need it in their heads if they have been taught it but they have not experienced that need deep in their understanding. 

How can I truly believe in the power of the cross of Jesus and his resurrection if in in my heart I believe that i’m good at heart(or at least not so very bad as to deserve death)? How can I believe if my heart tells me the debt is a small one? As I write this, I see the danger, the hypocrisy, the pride I was in so clearly. How merciful he is!   It would be impossible to fit the amount of pride and self-righteousness I had into that needle’s eye! 

Thankfully, nothing is impossible for God. 

My story is that for much of my life, in my own eyes have I have flattered myself too much to detect or hate my sin. (psalm 36:2).  I was hungry and thirsty but my life ebbed away(psalm 107:) without my even knowing it. I wandered a desert wasteland looking for the city I could settle in. I knew how to read the map but I was too blind to ever see my condition for what it was: How deceitful my heart is! The deceit was there the day I was born when an inheritance passed down to each of us humans took root. That I could be like God. The deceit grew more ominous the day it secured it’s place deep inside; that my “goodness” was all my own and i had enough of it to please God. And the danger grew more rapidly  the day I willingly believed the lie that my successes, my ease, my dreams being achieved and my peace of mind and comfort of soul because of pleasant circumstances were indicators of peace with God and that my devotion to church and lack of any major struggle, internal or external, was a sign of a well-off spiritual walk. The danger was like that of the Israelites who forgot that it was God and not them, who brought them out of Egypt who gave them their abundance and who brought them into the promised land out of his own goodness, not theirs. They grew proud. Complacent. Forgetful. Arrogant. Ignorant. How like me. 


I was sincere in my searching and desire to know God even from the youngest age but these things in me had to go. I just didn’t know it yet. 

When we truly seek God, God will be found.

I was seeking God in the sunshine but he came in the hurricane. He came in the storm, with wind that tore at my shingles and rain that beat at my siding. It nipped at my pride and exposed my self-righteousness. In the eye of the storm he showed me that anything done of myself would not last nor was it able to bear fruit. He showed me that my well ordered house was a deceit. It was well crafted on the outside but underneath it was decaying and dark. A polished cup on the surface only. My bank account had some human goodness but human goodness is not God’s currency. Human goodness is a corrupt currency. Then the eye passed and I was buffeted once more,  brought lower still. In this storm, God allowed me to experience some of the weight of what he died for as I saw just how ugly I am on the inside, how unclean i am without the blood of Jesus. Just the tip of the iceberg, really. If I knew all at once the full extent of my sinfulness, I really don’t think I could survive it. And yet Jesus took on the entire weight of every person! Mighty, awesome, powerful God! 
I give thanks to the Lord, because he showed me truth and when I was overwhelmed by my sins, he forgave me. Though he knew I would ignore his grace, and would go astray to follow my own self-righteous way, yet Jesus gave his life for mine. He has saved me from death, washed me clean with his blood, he has covered me with this robes. 

'Truly, he is my rock and my salvation.' 

'My soul finds rest in him',

' my hope comes from him.' 

'I cling to him.' 

'Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me! He has delivered me from death and my kept my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life'. 

The Psalmists sing songs that my new life echoes. 

One of the beautiful things about the storm is the first ray of light that comes after the clouds. The beautiful thing about the demolishing of a decrepit house is the rebuilding of the new one.  The beautiful thing is that when I found myself in disrepair, a house only good for condemnation, when I had nowhere else to go, when all I had disappeared from my bank account and I saw my poverty...it was then that I truly felt the most welcome in God’s house. 

I could accept my place as his daughter.  I could receive his grace as a sinner. 

As God builds me and shapes me and bends me and refines me, I know it won’t be easy but this I do know:

He has been with me all of my days. My Shepherd leads me by a straight way to the city I will settle in. 

He has done this for me: He has never forsaken me. 

And he never will. 

Jesus is my banner. I know that He is true. In my need, he has willingly and lovingly saved me to the uttermost! I am his and he is mine! 

"Let the redeemed of the Lord, tell their story…"

Comment

On Saturday, June 23, 2018, Francie McGlynn said:

Powerful writing, Morgan, about a personal transformation! I particularly enjoyed the house analogy. Do you ever read the work of Carl Jung?

 

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