Monday, June 18, 2007

Reminding the Redeemed of their Rescue: A Confession

Yesterday at church, during the time of corporate confession, someone was reading from James 4 about submitting and drawing near to God, and purifying your heart because you are by nature a double-minded man. As he was speaking and praying, the guard that I unconsciously work so hard to keep up was being brought silently down. When the music began again, I was particularly close to a place of brokenness. I am a double minded man. I don’t mourn and weep over my sin. There are so many things vying for my attention and seeking to allure me. I have failed in throwing off these distractions. Even now, it is hard for me to focus. O Wretched man that I am . . .

The words of the song that followed confession for some reason startled me. “Thy mercy my God, is the theme of my song; The joy of my heart, and the boast of my tongue.” Instant conviction. I knew that His mercy was not in fact the theme of my song. Oh it was part of the melody. Somewhere tucked in between the chords and syncopations of the lust of my flesh, the lust of my eyes and the boastful pride of life was the mercy of God that saved my soul. But it was not the theme. His mercy was not the joy of my heart and the boast of my tongue. I could see that the words of my mouth were only flavored by his mercy but were not engulfed in it. “Thy free grace alone, from the first to the last, hath won my affections and bound my soul fast.” The root of the problem was now so clear. Something else had won my affections, and thus my soul was bound fast to something else. This something else does not require specificity. Anything else, is inferior, even the motions of theological education. I had not sought to enthrall myself with Him, and my heart was consequently impoverished. At this moment, I had the most clear and lucid thought that I’ve had in recent memory: I give up, I cannot go on without being lost in this grace.

The tears that preceded the next verse burned as they carried in them the last remnant of self-sufficiency. The song continued, “without thy sweet mercy I could not live here; Sin would reduce me to utter despair;” Yes, that’s it. The lyrics had articulated my present emotion with alarming specificity. At that moment, everything inside me cried out, it is true. Sin has reduced me to utter despair. What is there to be done? Who can save me from this body of death?

My despair had tricked me into believing that the pain of this verse did not have an answer. What could be the corollary to this? By his grace, the song resumed, “But, through thy free goodness, my spirits revive, And he that first made me still keeps me alive.” For me in that moment, the words mirrored reality as the Spirit revived my soul through His free goodness. In the moment of my mental weakness, he was strong and he strengthened me with his strength. He brought me to the point where I could recognize the redemption that he had wrought in me for what it was, Grace upon Grace that I could never deserve.

“I don’t deserve this,” I cried. “That’s what makes it grace”, He replied.

Times like these convince me that the Father does not cease drawing his children to himself at conversion. The Christian life is marked by the work of the Spirit in reminding the redeemed of their rescue.

Thy mercy is more than a match for my heart, Which wonders to feel its own hardness depart; Dissolved by thy goodness, I fall to the ground, And weep to the praise of the mercy I’ve found.

Check out the lyrics, chords, and audio sample of Thy Mercy, my God.

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Says Simpleton is (c) Ched Spellman
2006-17

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