The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.
(1 Timothy 1:15 ESV)
God’s grace should day in and day out blow us away. The reality that God would love us rebels and sinners, that he would manifest his love in the person of Jesus Christ who came lived and died on the cross should stop us in our path daily. Due to our indwelling sin, we are not stopped and are easily distracted. Yesterday, however, was a day where I was stopped and amazed by God’s grace.
I was a guest preacher at Crossroads Fellowship Church. Crossroads is a 7 year old church plant that is by God’s grace, trying to reach the downtown Albuquerque area. The church was great, the body of Christ there really did care and love for each other in a way that shows they have felt the love of God in profound ways. As good as that was, it was not the church that blew me away. It was the Gospel.
9 years ago yesterday morning, guest preaching at a church was not on my radar. Instead fear, panic and despair were all hovering around my heart. I was in a jail cell, arrested for DWI. I was 20 years old, a week away from 21, and had a fake ID, and had spent the previous Saturday night drinking and partying downtown. I got in my jeep, actually, I stumbled into my jeep. I headed down the road, I am sure swerving this way and that. I stopped at a red light, only to decide to hop on the curb and drive my jeep through the intersection. Little did I know in my drunken stupor that a cop was behind me. Next thing I know, I have a couple cop cars behind me, I am handcuffed and put in the back of a car.
I lost my license for 3 months, had to go to court.
Rock bottom? Maybe for some. But that is not what God used to save me on the spot. It would be another 2 years till God opened my eyes to see his joy and salvation that is available.
When he did save me though, my life was transformed in radical ways. I did nothing to deserve, to achieve or to earn God’s favor. Instead God saw it fit to bring men into my life who loved me, who shared the gospel with me and who prayed for me. God saw it fit to call me one night to himself. God saw it fit for me to see the mercy of a Holy God who demands perfection and came down lived that perfection, and then became a sacrifice by taking the punishment I deserved.
Alcohol was not my problem, sin was. Sobriety was not the answer, the cross of Jesus was. Clean living is not my hope, Jesus is.
9 years later, I am still a messy, broken person. Far from the person I want to be, but that is not what makes me who I am, Christ’s blood makes me who I am, as it did that night 7 years ago.
9 years later I was downtown on Sunday morning, but instead of a jail cell, I was in a pulpit, preaching about this Jesus who saves, broken, drunken, messy people, like me.
Yeah, sometimes it just blows you away.