There was a biography written about my life many years ago. The opening words were rather bleak:
She was dead.
Ouch. Not really how I thought this would start. Three words and the author has already sent chills down my spine.
Not because the author's words are hurtful, but because I know how true they are.
I was DEAD.
My eyes stopped on that one word and could not move past it.
When my mind was finally able to move on and read the next words, I realized that my condition actually can (and does get worse):
She was in sin.
Following the ways of the world.
Following the ways of the devil.
She was disobedient.
Gratifying her sinful desires.
Living in the lusts of her flesh.
She was led by those desires.
And she indulged in them.
Not only dead, but in spiritual BONDAGE to Satan, the ultimate enemy of God. (That makes me sick to my stomach.)
Dead and a slave to the devil, his ways and my sinful, disgusting lusts.
I read through that list and it breaks my heart. How appalling.
Stephanie: an enemy of the living God.
And then the final description of the author's list. It is if all of the other descriptors are just a warm-up to this final label:
She was an object of wrath.
I mourn over those words written about ME and my rebellious heart.
I am disgusted by it. I hate it. My story is about MY disobedience. MY sin. MY deadness. MY slavery to evil.
MY impeding judgment and wrath by the One whom I have offended.
And you know what? I read the words that tell me that I deserve God's ultimate punishment, and I agree.
Following the ways of the devil, living for my own sin and indulgences, an enemy of the living God: that deserves nothing short of the full wrath of God. I deserve God's anger, His punishment.
Anything less would be unjust.
And just as it seems this story's plot is too predictable, the author throws the biggest plot twist imaginable with two short words.
I don't deserve those two words of intervention; I deserve the wrath that I had coming, but thankfully I wasn't writing the story.
But God was.
Juxtaposed by the description of my sinfulness, is a written description of who God is (expressed through what He does):
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved Stephanie, even when she was dead in our transgressions, made her alive together with Christ (by grace she has been saved).
The beautiful, undeserved, unearned intervention of a merciful God.
Has anything more beautiful ever been written?
The story does not sugarcoat anything. It is clear: I am AWFUL to my core. Completely depraved.
And how does God respond?
He ransoms me to Himself. Buys me with His Son's atoning blood. He saves me from the wrath that I rightly earned.
I deserved wrath. I was given grace.
That--in and of itself--is so much more than I can comprehend.
The story continues.
But God . . . did more still:
HE raises Stephanie up with His Son- whom He so loves.
HE seats her WITH HIM in the heavenly realms.
HE shows her the riches of His grace that cannot be compared with anything else.
The author collectively calls these actions that were shown to me "a gift". Now, this writer was the bomb--I'm not arguing that--but his word-choice seems so inadequate here. (But then again, how do you accurately describe something so powerful and incomprehensible?)
I am moved by those powerful words every time I read them. They grip me and for days after I cannot shake them out of my thoughts. I was dead; He raised me. I was a slave to sin and the devil and now I'm a servant of Christ. I was an object of wrath; He saved me and made me an object of grace.
My story, like all others, began as one of sin and death . . .
but God transformed it into something inconceivable.
And for that, I am eternally gratefully.
And for that, I am eternally gratefully.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
[Our pastor is teaching a series on Ephesians 2 for the next 4 weeks, so we started a blog: But God Stories where people could post personal experiences where God drastically intervened. This excerpt was just something that I wrote to support that. If you want to read people's stories, click here. And, if you are interested, and would like to submit your own story, that would be very, very cool. You can just click on the Share Your Story button at the top. You do not have to go to the same church either! ;)]
And sidenote to my sidenote: As I was typing the above info, the real version of this song (not my ghetto rendition) was playing on Pandora.