rescue and redemption

12 Jan
This past Sunday at Richwoods, our Lead Pastor Jim Powell left us with this final thought

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…

A trustworthy saying.  One we can depend on.  Something to hang our hat on.  A truth we can stand firm on.

Jesus Christ came into this world to rescue sinners.

You are one.  So am I.

In fact, I’m the worst.

But Jesus came.  He came to rescue.

God rescues us, and more than that–He shows us His mercy and grace.  He displays us like a work of art–He shows us off–in His unlimited patience as an example for those who are right on the edge of forever trusting in Him.  The light of His truth and love shines through the brokenness of our hearts and our redeemed lives, drawing Others closer to Himself.

He restores and redeems that which has been lost.

I’ve lived this redemption.  I’ve experienced this grace.  I’ve been rescued.
It’s my story.

Until just recently and over the last long several years, I have been running. I’ve been running from my faith and my God. I have sinned repeatedly and defiantly against Him and His will for my life; in fact, I was against His will for anyone’s life. My incessant infidelity, immorality, carelessness and arrogance led me to a place where I had literally no hope. I had purposely run so far from God that there was nothing redeeming about any of my thoughts, words or deeds.  Entirely engrossed in self-pity, I blamed Him and others for my circumstances and accepted no level of responsibility for my actions.  The hardships in my life–some of which were due to amplified injustices that we each face everyday, and many of which were a direct result of my own selfishness, pride and stubbornness–were twisted and mangled like an undergrowth of my soul to further fuel the fire that burned in my heart against my Creator God. The roots of bitterness that had been planted in my youth had received just enough sunlight of circumstance and water of despair to grow into strong vines that entangled and eventually choked the very desire to live out of me.

My behavior was that of a narcissistic, codependent, angry, compulsive, and bitter coward. In short, my actions were that of a sinner fallen far from grace. My heart was so dark, so angry and so destroyed by the chronic disobedience to what I knew in my heart to be true, that literally everything I did was far from honoring to God, and therefore damaging to me and to everyone around me.  There is no excuse that I can offer nor any defense of the content of my character within the context of my rebellion.  My pride and insecurities were in the way of allowing me to respond to God’s grace–a result of my open and methodical defiance to my Maker.

Rather than simply face the truth and admit my frailty to those around me who cared, I consistently wove a web of deception and self-preservation around my world and sabotaged any relationship that threatened my rebellious and self-centered  lifestyle.  I entrenched myself in lies in an effort to keep the truth of my condition at bay to myself and to others. The twisted and wicked nature of my thinking allowed me to actually believe that my actions were “saving” my identity, when in reality I was sentencing and executing myself to a spiritual and literal death.

As many of you know from conversations as you‘ve joined with me on my journey, instead of following Jesus or living my life according to the truths and principles of Following the Way, I had rejected them entirely and lived my life My Way. It is from that dark place–a heart wounded by my past and turned inward on my own needs and desires–that my wrongdoings came.

Yet it was in that state–when I was as far from God as I’ve ever been, with no chance of making it back to Him on my own–that He met me.  He rescued me.

Jesus Christ came into this world to rescue sinners.

I am one…In fact, I’m the worst.

But Jesus came.  He came to rescue.

He rescued me.

And in His mercy and grace, He has found it fit to provide me platforms to share my story with Others who are lost along the Way; to encourage them, to display me.  I’ve only just begun the long and painful journey of getting back where I need to be–not only spiritually, but emotionally and psychologically as well. Running from God takes its toll on mind, body and soul. In humility, sorrow and sincerity I’ve limped back into the arms of my Father; back into authentic community; back into transparent relationships in my journey.  In doing so, I’ve serendipitously and unwittingly given God permission to use  me–a broken vessel, allowing His light to shine through the cracks of an exposed and wounded life.  His love, by His grace, is revealed to Others in the midst of my shattered world.  The process of my own healing and restoration is being used by Him to help Others who seek to (re)engage as Followers of the Way.  That He would choose to rescue me; to work in and through me; to display me, of all people–the worst sinner–is evidence of His mercy and grace.

I’ve lived this redemption.  I’ve experienced this grace.  I’ve been rescued.
It’s my story.

And as I continue along the path, as I follow the Way, this is my prayer:

Investigate my life, O God; search me; examine me; test me, and see if there is anything out of whack.  Check my priorities and my hidden thoughts; my fears and underlying motives; seek out the source behind my ambition and my drive, and remove from me anything You see as wrong.  Cut out any cancer that lurks in the corners of my heart, no matter how much it hurts.  Make me pure before You, O God, as only You can.  Leave me only with the priority of following You.

Lead me in Your Way.


7 Responses to “rescue and redemption”

  1. gladwellmusau January 12, 2010 at 3:40 AM #

    I have read your post and my heart has leaped with joy. Why, because many years ago…I prayed that prayer about letting God investigate my life from Psalms 139:23-24 Search me O God and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties.Any see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me IN THE WAY everlasting.



  2. taja williams January 12, 2010 at 4:06 PM #

    that was a really interesting read. I enjoyed your honesty about the struggles you had, and that we are all sinners , yet Christ loved us anyways, and God never lets one of his own go if he can help it, we run from him. I will continue to read your posts. Excellent work.

  3. Ty Paluska January 26, 2010 at 9:37 AM #

    The redemption of ALL things! I love being a part of this WAY and getting a chance to share in your story. Redemption is a beautiful thing. Great post Michael. You will surely help many people see God.

  4. Nikki Pawlaczyk January 26, 2010 at 10:33 PM #

    Welcome back, my friend, welcome back! I’m very excited to read your words of crawling back into the Father’s arms… God is so good! I just read in Ezekiel 34 about how God will seek out His people as a shepherd seeks for his lost/scattered sheep… He NEVER lets go, He NEVER gives up on His children! He is faithful to finish what He’s started… and you are living proof. It was hard to watch your downhill spiral, but so inspiring to hear about your climb back up. Keep climbing, keep seeking, keep going… To God be ALL the glory! Still praying for you!

  5. S Fee January 29, 2010 at 12:50 AM #

    I too am perpetually blown away that Jesus came into this world to be sin for us and knowingly crucified Himself for our righteousness. Are you kidding me. And yet, even in his grace, I continue to do what I do not want to do, and I do not do what I want to do; and these are the trials that will continue to refine and sanctify us until we go Home. Stand firm and thanks for your transparency.

  6. thenonconformer January 30, 2010 at 4:27 AM #

    Personally being sincere with God is what matters but sadly for many God is pretence, we pretend we care for His Word but we still do our own thing

  7. Pedro Bosques February 28, 2010 at 11:13 PM #

    It felt like I was reading my own life. But we are made new thru Christ.

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