February 6, 2012

A Wretch Like Me

For reasons I've yet to logically explain, God's led me to some places that are way outside my ordinary—like prison. Here I've met people I may have crossed the street to avoid, looked down on in judgement or never even encountered. Yet here I also meet people whose transformed lives show me the incredible, indescribable, incomprehensible love of Jesus whose amazing grace sets us free—ALL of us. Today at Internet Cafe Devotions I share about one of those experiences.

I wish you could join me for a church service in the prison I visit regularly. Together we’d experience praise that’s loud and joy that’s overflowing. We’d see worship that’s raw, transparent and vulnerable.

An outside guest recently shared his testimony. “I was a stone cold drunk for 20 years. Sometimes I’d be driving on the expressway and I’d be so drunk I’d roll down the window, throw up and keep driving. I did crystal meth. I was into pornography, adultery, thieving.”

I cringed at the raw and ugly details of a life so obviously devastated by sin. And I marveled as he proclaimed God’s redemptive and transforming grace.

In the broken places of this world I continually hear similar testimonies from people who had hit bottom and literally had nowhere else to turn—except to Jesus.
(image credit/Creation Swap)

Sometimes I get serious spiritual whiplash going from the active, out-loud faith in the prison to the cautious, silent faith in the suburbs.

In a community Bible study I attend, most of the upper-middle class women are seeking faith and have been part of the group for years. Yet even though they’ve heard lots of solid biblical teaching, it seems few have grown. Requests for personal testimony are usually met with uncomfortable silence. Many still seem to hold Jesus at arms’ length.

You and I don’t have to literally be in jail to be imprisoned. We can be locked behind bars made of things stronger than steel. Things like doubt, fear, hurt, anger, pride, jealousy, insecurity, worry, guilt. The list goes on.

In suburbia the greatest barriers to life-changing faith might be the comfort and materialism of our affluent lives. Who needs a savior when we live in kingdoms of our own making?

Plus, we’re not wretches. At least not like the man who shared his testimony!

Or are we?  

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