Like many of you here in Missouri, we are in the middle of our typical bitter cold snap in these early days of January. While it’s usually colder here in Mid-Missouri than it is in the more southern regions of this country, this cold is just a bit more drastic than we are used to experiencing. Before you begin to think that all I am going to do is discuss our weather, hang with me for just a few more sentences.
Of course, complaining about the weather does not change it or even bring us a moment’s warmth this winter. By the same token, complaining about our current spiritual condition does very little to bring about the change necessary for us to experience the abundant life that the Father has for us.
Perhaps what concerns me is how easily I can become distracted by the temporal and conditional things of this life, and then allow my perspective of what God is seeking to accomplish in and through my life to become tainted by my own limited vision and understanding.
Why should I allow the weather, the economy, or any other circumstance to consume my energy or my thoughts? The reality is that regardless of what happens in life, there is One Who is still on His throne. He alone is worthy to be praised and exalted.
While we may strive to prove our worth or demonstrate our value to the Kingdom or humanity in general, there is nothing in our lives that we can achieve that will enhance our worth or declare our value to the human race. After all, our worth, value and hope is not wrapped up in an ideology or even a worldview; rather, they are enveloped in a person, whose name is Jesus Christ.
By His grace and mercy, He declares your worth and value. Though we rebelled against Him, He reached out to us. Though we cursed Him with every fiber of our being, He pulled us into His presence. While some in our world may mock these words as the fantasies of the meandering mind, it is difficult to dismiss the testimony of how a solitary life can be radically changed by such an outrageous love.
Only those of us who have been lost can truly understand the depths a soul can sink, or the length of His reach for one of his lost sheep. As I was joining a group of believers in worship this past Sunday, I was struck anew by the power of the words of that old hymn by John Newton, “Amazing Grace.”
Now, like many of you, I have heard and sung that hymn well over a thousand times in my life. Many times I have simply mouthed the words as if they had no meaning. On this past Sunday morning, I was enveloped by their truth in a way that I should be every time I sing them.
Of all the verses, one in particular spoke to my spirit afresh.
“Through many dangers, toils and snares, we have already come. T’was grace that brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.”
As I sung those words I thought of my brothers and sisters around the world who might also be singing these same words. Some of them are not singing them in climate-controlled buildings, or sitting in a room with friends and loved ones. Many of them have paid a high price to sing these words that have become almost too familiar to me.
It would not matter to them what others thought of their pitch, or even the clarity of their speech, since they were and are not singing for an earthly audience. Rather it is their hope that these words will in some small way communicate to their loving Heavenly Father and their Savior, just how grateful they are for the mercy that they have been given.
Whether some might think that this concept of divine grace is outdated or irrelevant is no concern of ours. Each day we live we are called to bring hands and feet to this Gospel of hope that we so deeply cherish.
As I am reminded by the life of one whom I once met who spent time in prison for her faith, it matters not what they do to me or think of me as long as the Gospel of Jesus is proclaimed. Sounds a little like the Apostle Paul doesn’t it?
My only desire is to exalt the Name of the One Who was willing to do whatever was necessary to bring us to Himself. I know that I am unworthy of such love and grace. Perhaps, this is why I am more grateful to Him than my words can possibly express.
MIKE COOPER / Director, MBC Church Health Team