Thursday, November 09, 2006

. . . . and I read about me

I had one of those rare moments wherein I was overcome with self-revelation. That is, I was reading the Bible, a quiet-time before work, and this particular passage really "spoke" to me:

"I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life."

This passage from 1 Timothy 1:12-16 hit me in so many ways. I thought about the line "appointing me to his service." Just last Sunday in the junior high room at church I got all teary-eyed because I was so blown away by how rewarding my service in that ministry is for me. As I read this section of the Bible, I feel some sense of bewilderment that I could be utilized by God in such a way to bring him any benefit.

Mercy and grace are perhaps the two most amazing words in our language and I am so thankful for receiving them both in abundance. The more I ponder this small piece of scripture, I am certain that everything I thought I knew about God's grace and mercy is entirely inadequate to even begin to scratch the surface of just how great and generous and loving God really is. Although I thought I had covered these topics over a decade ago, I found myself going to the dictionary and then found myself thinking: "It's one thing to 'refrain from inflicting punishment or pain to an offender' but it is quite another all together to be able to show 'favor and goodwill' instead." I wonder: What does this look like when it's played out in my home, my classroom, and on the street?

I reread and I'm struck by the phrase "has given me strength" now. I cannot describe this tremendous sense of strength I've been feeling for months now. The best way that I can even begin to articulate what I even mean by this is that I feel like I have moved beyond self-controll (a concept I'm beginning to realize is totally bogus and unobtainable anyway) to being Christ-controlled. Now, I am scared to even type that, okay, not scared to type it, but hesitant to "publish" it because it sounds arrogant, but I actually feel powerful. I feel like am beginning to finally begin to tap into the spirit of strength God has placed within me as is promised in the scriptures. It feels good! I feel very grateful for this strength as I reread the words of Paul here. Do me a favor? If you see me faltering, remind me of this spirit.

Finally, it's like I never saw this line before in all my life. Paul writes here about Christ displaying his "unlimited patience" through him. Who am I kidding? This is about me. I recall this Steven Curtis Chapman song that begins, "Started out this morning, in the usual way, chasing thoughts inside my head of all I had to do today . . . . I opened up the Bible and I read about me . . . ." Instead of being all teary-eyed now, I'm chuckling to myself thinking about what a great vehicle I have been for Christ's patience. I've given Him every opportunity to be patient with me. "Why was/am I so stubborn?," I'm thinking. But, I find great hope in thinking that maybe, like Paul, God is using my very weaknesses to bring glory to Himself? It's baffling really.

Many times when I read the Bible, I gain information, sometimes insight, sometimes it's just going through the motions, but this particular morning I was reading about me and I wish I could actually describe to you what it feels like when you're thinking, really believing, "This was written about me, for me, and nobody in the history of the world has ever found this secret place that I'm in right now."

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5 Comments:

Blogger Summer said...

I, too, had a "reading about me" moment this morning. I'm so thankful that God's Word is "living and breathing." I'm thankful that God aims His Word directly at my storms or mountains or valleys - whatever it is each day, and brings the calm of His peace and strength and understanding to my soul.

Excellent post - may God continue to work in and through you.

In His care,
Summer

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