“…love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8
I had the most extraordinary experience with God this morning and just have to share it.
I was out on my back deck, trying to practice the presence of God. As I sat there, trying to clear my mind, I was overcome with all these memories; distractions I thought. The odd thing about them was that they were all memories of bad things in my life: regrets, things I am ashamed of, words I wished I had never said, actions I wished I had never taken.
I thought to myself, “Why are all these awful things coming to mind? I am here to be with God!” So I would try to center myself again and get rid of these uncomfortable thoughts so I could be free to hear all the wonderful things God wanted to say to me.
After several attempts, I was defeated. These memories (most of them painful and embarrassing) took over my thoughts and I was powerless to expel them. They began to run through my mind like one of those old “highlights films.” But yet, mine would have been called, “Lana’s Worst Moments.” It was horrible.
But then something amazing happened. As I watched the events roll over in my mind, I found myself saying, “Boy, you really pulled me out of the fire that time, Lord.” Or, “Man, that could have ended so much worse.”
And as I looked more closely at the images, I saw a presence. I cannot describe it here, but if you want to hear more about it come and talk to me. But this presence was there in each scene. It was unlike anything I have seen before, but I immediately recognized it to be the presence of God. He was there, in every terrible and embarrassing moment. He was there in the midst of every sin I have committed and every hurt I have inflicted on others.
You would think I would have been mortified. But it was just the opposite. I saw grace enveloping me, like a mist. It was incredible. I tangibly felt grace falling on me. It was an experience I will never forget. The emotions, the visual, the sensation of it on my skin – it was truly life-changing. I felt loved.
And this was my “Aha moment.” The truth is, I have never appreciated God’s grace fully, because I have never admitted the depth of my sin. I have been a believer in Christ for many years. And I have intellectually called myself a sinner, but I have never really owned up to those specific instances in which I willfully engaged in sinful behavior. Why? Because I wanted to keep up the charade, that although I believe Christ died for my sins, I was still a really good person.
Don and I were laughing last night at this statement from St. Augustine:
“I had no motive for my sin except sin itself. I loved it. I loved the self-destruction… I loved my fall as my depraved soul leaped into ruin.”
It is only in the light of the morning that I can see that I am the same.
If St. Augustine’s 4th century language does not resonate with you, let’s try a more contemporary figure. I quote a modern cultural icon, Eric Cartman,
“I do what I want.”
The truth is, the human condition is is true of us all. I will always seek my own self-indulgence before I seek the Holiness of God. I am Augustine, I am Eric Cartman, I am a sinner.
But the great news is: I am also a new creation in Christ. His grace has justified me in the eyes of the Lord. I can walk away from those regretted instances, and live a life renewed with my slate wiped clean.
I am still living with the consequences of some of those bad decisions, and that grieves my heart. It is an inescapable fact of life. But I know that God has forgotten them, because of Jesus. And I know that I am fully loved and forgiven. I am free to live today as a child of grace.
Boy, I can’t wait to hear what He has to say tomorrow.
You are holy. And You are righteous. Your grace flows over me like a river. I rejoice in the Lord of my salvation. For in You, there is no condemnation; only mercy. I have done nothing to deserve this gift for which I am so grateful. But that is the whole point, isn’t it, my Lord. Thank you is not sufficient, but it is all I have. Please accept my grateful heart, and lead me down the paths of life-everlasting.
In the name of Jesus I pray,