grace upon grace...
"A fortunate fall, my sins are stories of grace to recall A fortunate fall, I glory in my sins forgiven And still I'm a wicked, wretched man, I do everything I hate I am fighting to be god, I seethe and claw and thrash and shake I have killed and stacked the dead, on a throne from which I reign In the end I just want blood, and with His blood my hands are stained See the God who reigns on high, He has opened His own veins From His wounds a rushing torrent that can wash it all away Grace upon grace, upon grace upon grace." -Chad Gardner, Felix Culpa*
So often I find myself looking back on those things which I had done, or those which I had left undone...and I become bound. Bound by shame. Bound by guilt. Sometimes it leaves me with the thought that I shouldn't even try to do something else, for I shall eventually tread down the same path again. At other times such guilt thoughts me to simply hide away, fearful that I would be found out. I come to places where I believe I should have been other than I was. I desire to live in light of what I know to be true, but so often I find that I have chose to believe a lie. I desire to do what is right and find within myself too little strength to accomplish the task set before me. Though I desire to sit at the feet of Christ and obey, I often find myself running after whatever my heart desires.
I marvel at the truth that my sins have become the stories of grace. That even though they may still haunt me and bellow out my weakness, they have become part of the redemptive narrative of my life. They have been woven into the tapestry of redemption, both mine and those around me. I am the first to tell anyone that I come across in such times of wrestling that the cross can cover all, that there is nothing that catches God by surprise or keeps Him away from His children. But to my own heart, I often keep such words at an arms length. I trust that Christ can easily forgive and work through everyone, everyone save me. For though I desire to love Him more than the rest, so often I run to that which I know will not satisfy. I know that the wells have run dry and He offers living water, but what would it hurt to check them one more time. I do so only to find myself yet again longing for that which would truly satisfy. I run to broken wells only to become more thirsty than I was before.
So often we find ourselves in a society that doesn't invite us to bring our weakness to the forefront. We come to believe that these struggles of the faith are ours alone to bear. If only we could be like the heroes of the faith. What if this week hadn't seen me tempted in lust, envy, doubt, fear? And it's only Tuesday evening. I am one who believes that we must have heroes, those who have gone before us that we can look to. None of these men or women should ever be prayed to or allowed to replace Christ in our life. But in having heroes we can follow their example as they followed Christ. Was that not something that even St. Paul called us to..? (1 Cor. 11:1) So often we look at our heroes and desire to make them demigods. We become angry when people remind us that Wesley was such a bad father and husband that no Methodist church would even let him teach Sunday school today. Or that in Calvin's Geneva people were put to death for wrong doctrine. Or that Spurgeon at times needed his deacons to wake him up on Sundays, for he was so depressed he could not get out of bed to preach. Or Augustine believing that any enjoyment of sex, even between married folk, was sinful. Or look at Paul. From his own pen we have the words of Romans 7:15-20: "For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me." In reading such things I am filled with joy. For in places such as these I am reminded that I am still welcomed into the halls of the holy. That though I am often echoing out such cries, I do not cry alone. Though I often look at myself and see one that is far from worthy of the price that Christ purchased me for, I am not alone. Though I sin, I am no longer bound to it, for it has become bound to Calvary's tree. Though I often find my soul in the same despair as Paul when he penned (or dictated) I can follow the same path as he followed. For though I can look at my life and see that condemnation would be just, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Rm. 8:1)" When such doubts and fears plague us it is amongst the hardest of all things to turn to Christ and trust that what He speaks over us is true. In pursuit of Him we shall fall, though hopefully less tomorrow than yesterday. For such is the nature of sanctification. But we shall fall. We shall fail. We shall do those things which de desired not to do, and we shall yet again leave undone those things to which we were called. But in these moments we must allow the gospel's cry to become louder than the sirens song. Our sins, once bound to Christ, offer themselves to become stories of grace shown to us. Grace, upon grace, upon grace, upon grace... *Below is the music video for Kings Kaleidoscope's song Felix Culpa from which the opening quote was taken.