“Why me, Lord? What have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I’ve known?” ~Kris Kristofferson~
Long ago, when the gravel voiced singer first asked those questions, I mulled them over through many contemplative hours. What did I do to arrange my birth in the wealth, affluence and freedom of North America? What strings did I pull to arrange that fortunate miracle? What did I do to merit God’s mercy, compassion and endless love?
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. GRACE. Has there ever been a word with such limitless dimensions of meaning? It has a wondrous, soul-stirring beauty about it that captures us in its embrace; yet, even as it enfolds us we resist the unmerited favor of our Creator because we are thoroughly and most certainly stuck inside of human skin.
Embedded in our genetic code is the compulsion to be entirely self-sufficient. We deceive ourselves with the idea that by our personal efforts we can be good enough to please God. That is a fatal flaw that causes us to run away from grace even as it pursues us with an everlasting urgency.
Life is a journey marked by mile-markers of joys and sorrows. Teardrops and laughter are the signposts along the way. The older I get the more I determine that when it comes to exploring the abyss of grace, I am a ragged pauper standing with my hat in my hand wondering why God shares his infinite riches with a debased human being like me.
That’s the exact point, isn’t it? We are all debased human beings who “fall short of the glory of God.” Christ came into the world to save sinners. It is not that we make mistakes, develop poor morals or engage in ethical lapses, but rather, God sent his Son into the world because we are sinners.
Each one of us are potential drunkards, drug addicts, sex fiends, serial killers or worse. If you refuse to recognize that dark potential, then you are deluding yourself about the malignant root of sin lurking deep within; you must live in Self-Righteous Land or Bigtime Denial Land.
Without God’s grace, we would challenge each other for the Vilest Offender title because human nature has not changed one iota. Jeremiah wrote: “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Great Good News
The good news is that God has not left us to our own devices to be consumed by our degenerate appetites and obsessions. Filled with compassion for the human dilemma, our Creator provides a plan of action to redeem us from our evil inclinations.
God’s plan is genuinely simple: Admit our sinfulness, ask for and accept God’s offer of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. Our ransom was paid by Christ on the cross of Calvary; all we have to do is receive what has already been purchased. A simple transaction, but we humans continue to complicate the daylights out of it.
We think there is some trick, ritual or hoop we have to jump through to earn a shot at God’s plan. We want to climb the ladder all by ourselves, thank you very much. That line of thinking is destructive and self-defeating; it is the fruit of arrogance, which seems to have pretty blossoms but they are actually quite deadly and poisonous.
Arrogance tells us that we can please God and achieve some level of redemption completely on our own. That is the epitome of futility. In our endeavors there is nothing we can do to escape sin and its consequences. Our only hope is found in the fathomless simplicity of God’s profound plan.
Have Mercy On Me, A Sinner
No one can earn salvation. That’s what Jesus of Nazareth touched on when he said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” To be poor in spirit means to recognize our desperate inadequacies as we cry out to God: “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Why me, Lord? What did I do to be worthy of God’s generosity? Exactly the same as you. Nothing. Not a single solitary thing. I did not pull myself up by my bootstraps and neither did you or anyone else. No one ever pulls themselves up by their bootstraps because without God’s grace no one even has bootstraps.
What’s up with grace is that no one deserves God’s blessings; no one deserves God’s love, mercy and forgiveness. Yet grace is freely available to everyone.
Have you accepted God’s free gift for yourself? If not, then consider Jesus. Let the celebration start today as you begin to probe the bottomless depths and pleasures of God’s wonderful, marvelous, amazing and indescribable grace.