As I sit here in Starbucks on this snowy Good Friday night, I feel grateful. Grateful for the Cinnamon Dolce Latte (decaf, half sweet of course!) I am sipping; grateful for the jazz music in the background; grateful for the chance to be outside my house after a very dull day…just thankful for the small, simple things. But there is so much more to be thankful for. An infinite number of things…
the God-given curiosity that caused me to search…
the boy who came to Life through a random girl on a chat line…
the same, overzealous boy who ruthlessly shared that Life with me…
the day Christ removed the dirt from my eyes so I could see…
But I didn’t see it then like I do now. And it is still growing – the knowledge of Him who bled for me. The terrifying knowledge of why it had to be done. The crazy love he showed me. He would have still been good if he had never done it. He would have been completely just in not saving me. But he did it. Amazing grace. Am I grateful enough?
No. Not even close. Not even REMOTELY close. But the gratitude is growing.
But getting to be a grateful person is a kind of painful process. To be grateful for the Cross is not possible, I have realized, without an understanding of what I am. Or, maybe more appropriately, an understanding of who I am in light of who God is. This is a scary thing. It’s a humbling thing. But it makes the Cross all the more glorious – IF I am willing to see it.
To be unwilling is the most ridiculous thing, but the most human thing. It is the only thing worth seeing – but impossible to see. Until Grace breaks through.
God, give eyes to see.
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath – Ephesians 2:1-3
This, I was not told growing up. Had I been, I would have laughed. I knew I was a good person. Even as a Christian, I hear these verses and I hear that voice… “Did God really say….?”. That same voice Eve heard. The same voice she chose to listen to. That pride lives in me too. Blinding pride. God, give me eyes to see!
But here, God tells me – “You were dead. You deserved wrath”. No, God wouldn’t say that. God is love. But he said it. HE said it. Am I willing to see myself as I am? Am I willing to see God as he really is – wrath included? Is this God, the one who punishes sin with wrath, the God that I worship? Or have I moulded him into something else …my own image?
I don’t want to see it. I don’t want to! I hate it. It’s not true. Yes, I am flawed. Yes, I can be terrible, but I am no murderer. I am not as bad as that person over there. Surely there is some good in me. Surely, people are not all bad. I know some good people. I defend others, but really I am defending myself. Justifying myself. I feel the pride swell in my heart. That damning pride. It has to die, or I will.
You were dead in your sin…like the rest of mankind. No one is righteous. NO. Not even one!
This is my condition – our condition. It is repeated throughout the Pages. How often I have read it, without seeing it. Selective seeing. And how long I have “seen it” intellectually, but not from the heart.
Created to glorify Him, instead I glorify myself. Instead of following Him, I follow the ways of Lucifer, the enemy (vs. 1-3). This is not just bad, it is evil. I am, by nature evil. I was God’s enemy. I feel the pride swell again when I hear those words. I feel myself start to say “I think what it really means is….” But it is clear here, and clearly stated elsewhere (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21 etc.).
Jesus cried out “My God, My God! Why have your forsaken me!?” Jesus, part of the Godhead. Eternally present with God the Father. Severed. Separated. Not just beaten and mocked by men, but enduring Holy Wrath. Jesus did not go through that for mostly good people. He went through it for His enemies – so that they could become friends. God could not look upon Jesus in that moment because he had become sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). He, in his justice, poured wrath out on the Son he loved. This is our condition before God every day, until we see the Cross and believe. The Cross: I deserved it. Until recently, I am not sure I really believed I did.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved – Ephesians 2: 4,5
Grace. Unwarranted favour.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus – Ephesians 2: 6, 7.
Former enemies, now not just friends – but heirs! Seated with Christ the King! So that His glory and His character would be made known. It’s not about me.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast – Ephesians 2:8, 9.
A Gift from an infinitely Holy God to sinners worthy of infinite wrath. This is something to be ETERNALLY thankful for.
God continues to reveal himself to me. It isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. It’s painful. Him: Holy. Sovereign. Wrathful. Just. Jealous. Merciful. Loving. Forgiving. He is not just some of these things, but all of them. And sometimes, I don’t like the implications attached to these attributes. Me? Rebellious. Arrogant. Selfish. Hateful. Unworthy. Rescued. Adopted. Loved.
This Love is senseless to me when I look in the Mirror and see what I am. But loved I am. Rescued from the worst of fates. At peace with God through the Blood. Saved by Grace. Do I believe this? Will I believe it? God, give me eyes to see…
By nature, it is offensive. But by grace, we know it is Life. Destined for eternal death, we were given eternal Life. How can we be anything but grateful?