Thoughts on Forgiveness: Confessions from the Chief of Sinners

Yesterday at church, nearing the end of his sermon, my pastor asked the congregation, "From this day forward, if God were to take away every blessing that he has ever given you except Christ, would he be enough?" Instantly sobering, this question began burning deep. The issue was so real in that moment, it was as if everything that I have in this world had been taken away; as if God had removed every blessing except Christ. In this moment the question came. Is he enough? When all else falls away, and I am left with nothing, is he enough? If hurricane Katrina rips through my town, cancer takes away my youth, wars devastate my family, terror strikes at my home, Is he enough? When every blessing is removed and every comfort eradicated, is God's gift of himself sufficient for my joy?

In this sober moment of clarity, my heart begins to break, because I realize I cannot answer in the affirmative. Oh, don't misunderstand me. My heart screams yes, he is enough. My head concurs. Everything within me says Yes, he is enough. He is worthy. However, my life and my experiences paint a somewhat paler picture of my reality. I trade treasures for trifles every day. I fall prey to habitual sins moment by moment. I cling to my health. I have inordinate love for comfort and security. I neglect the feast of God's precious word for the latest blog entry on the web. I am the chief of sinners. Oh wretched man that I am. Who will save me from this body of death?

After this question was posed, there was a time of giving thanks. People were expressing and articulating what it was that they were thankful for. The entire time people were offering up praises, there was a fire raging within me. Over and over, a thought was pounding in my head, longing for release. It wasn't a voice. It was much more clear than any audible expression could ever be. It was what I realized in that moment I was most thankful for.

Now, there are many things I am thankful for. I am thankful for a beautiful, God-fearing wife; for a wonderful family; for the opportunity for education; for guitars, books, chess-boards, Mexican food, Lord of the Rings; But none of these came to mind. None were even close. What was welling up within me was this:

I am so thankful that He does not take my sins into account...

That was it. In my falleness, I don't even realize how much I've sinned and trampled on the glory of God, much less how much I've been forgiven.

If You, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.
(Psalm 130:3-5)

Fearing the Lord and awed by this condescending grace.

August 21, 2006


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